For a very long time, I have had a fear of major disasters. Obviously we’re all afraid of them, but I’m really frightened. I have dreams about bombings, war, earthquakes, fires, and much more. I am afraid of the suffering, not as much of dying, but the suffering that is before or instead of dying. And honestly, at this point, the suffering is likely to be less horrible than what I imagine. The anticipation of suffering is really extreme in my mind.
About 10 days ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and smelled smoke. I closed my window and looked online to see if something near me was on fire. Nothing near me was, but basically all of Northern California not near me was, including areas very close to my parents’ and my sister’s house.
My family and their homes all ended up being OK but many, many people were not. In Santa Rosa alone, a city of only 175,000 people, over 3,000 homes were destroyed. This was absolute devastation.
It felt almost like a memory because I’ve had so many nightmares about this. It didn’t come close to my home, but it devastated many areas from my childhood, and for a week I was on edge, not sleeping, following the news like my life depended on it.
The fear has abated somehow. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an absolute nightmare. There are people who have lost every material possession. Thousands of people are living in shelters and over 30 people died. But the world didn’t end.
I hope that doesn’t sound callous. I’m sure there are people who feel like the world did end. But it’s still going and I’’m seeing people survive this. Maybe I could survive too. Maybe fear is actually stronger than reality.