I long for the tenderness that blossomed during the Northern California fires.
We were exhausted, stressed, and raw. Pretense disappeared in the growing smoke. We became real, and...we slowed down.
Most conversations began sincerely with, “how are you?” “Stay safe,” became our parting benediction. May your roof remain intact and your loved ones unharmed...if the horror had visited, may your grief be warmed. We ‘noticed’ each other, and...we slowed down.
The speed of traffic slowed as the trajectory of others became as valuable as our own. Strangers hugged. We found our common kindness, and...we slowed down.
Regressing post-fire, I aggressively sped up to pass a merging car. I caught myself, embarrassed and saddened. I slowed, allowing the car to merge ahead. A woman behind leaned on her horn and flipped me off. The smoke was only three days absent, how quickly we forget…
I felt sorrow below my shock, and with some struggle, shrugged my shoulders and with compassion waved at the car behind me. I do not know how this gesture landed, I do know that she slowed down.