My daughter and I decided to hike the scorched hills behind our house on Thanksgiving Eve to get a firsthand look at the aftermath of the Woolsey Fire, and we witnessed the vast expanse of earth charred to smoldering nothingness. It was breathtaking, and I’m not even talking about air quality. Imagine strolling through a gigantic ashtray with a spectacular mountain view of the sun dropping into the Pacific Ocean and that pretty much captures the scene.
It had been an indescribable couple of weeks with one difficult to comprehend event stacked on top of another. Our daughter had not planned to visit for Thanksgiving, but the dramatic events at home led to a change of plans. That we were there together, standing on a mountain with a spectacular ocean view, surveying such immense devastation just steps above our house was more than a little surreal.
Standing there I realized on Thanksgiving Eve that I had much for which to be thankful. Friends and family. Life and love. Work and community. Health and safety. Even that moment. An unforgettable moment.
We walked back off of the mountain and returned home with that slight feeling of exhilaration that comes when you realize that you have just witnessed something special.
Later, looking out at that mountain ridge that from our window is the color of dark-roasted coffee grounds, it dawned on me that things look very different from the top of the mountain than they do just a few steps down here below. The perspective changes everything.
Sometimes it is a pretty comforting thing to realize that somewhere up above things look significantly different.