As Americans, our capitalist wired DNA virtually drives us to strive for more, reaching higher, buying bigger, fostering a mentality of avarice, cupidity, and similar bankrupt notions. However, after watching this week the unfolding drama of the wildfires scorching the tinderbox West, particularly the Beaver Creek blaze around Ketchum, Idaho, that threatens the “playground of the silver screen” it was compelling to pose this question, “If time permitted, in the midst of an evacuation order, or natural disaster, what would I grab just before racing out the door to safety?”
According to NOOA, “tornado alley” experienced less than the normal traffic in 2013, as in the same period last year. In fact, frequency and death numbers are down, thankfully. However, the fires in a 5 state region appear bent on compensating for the lack of severe, tornadic conditions, to wreak havoc upon us. According to the Wyoming Geological Survey Study, the Yellowstone region rests on a major fault line. It’s conceivable that Central Wyoming could be rocked by the aftershock of such an event.
As one considers the possibility, thoughts begin cascading into a rotating carrousel, like those of old, that were used to bore visitors about our latest vacation to visit avuncular Uncle Norm in Schenectady. The sensation may be vertigo-like, spiraling out of control, pondering what one would do in the midst of a seismic tremor or geologic upheaval, with a vast array of images that flood our minds. You know the feeling?
The insurance industry sent in their own cadre of firefighters to guard their “investment” in Sun Valley, battling the inferno that may engulf Tom Hanks or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s palatial getaway, and spell disaster. What would they grab? An Oscar? A trophy? Are the elite not bereft of “common values” at such a time?
Now, the first aftershock mildly rumbles your dwelling, shifting the landscape beneath you, as the cabinets shake, plates rattle and crash to the floor. You stand all alone. Do you dash madly for the closet, or scramble for the door and save your hide? Perhaps you hastily estimate, there is time to grab one thing that is of great value or dear to your soul. What would it be? A purse or wallet? So you could identify yourself, and be armed with a credit card. Or would it be a picture album with those photos that you could never replace? A family recipe book? Jewelry?
For some it would be an iPad or laptop that stores your “life on it.” Some men may grab their favorite hunting rifle or prize elk call. It may be birth certificates, marriage license, or legal documents. Is it age or gender driven? Or is it a matter of the heart? A little boy or girl, may riskily snatch a well-worn Velveteen Rabbit they cherish from its place of prominence on a shelf in their bedroom. A box of “love letters” that still launch a visceral attack on your heart?
Choices may be wildly divergent in a looming crisis where a nanosecond determines life or death. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be your prescription for Latisse, or Levitra. Time is fleeting. Have you decided what you treasure most? As you find yourself betwixt the world as you know it, house intact, and a troubling vision of it being reduced to a pile of rubble. What have you decided? Time for hesitation is over. Would you even have to think about it? Is it nearly instinctive? Chesterton observed, “There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect.”
Perhaps your treasures are housed within, and there’s no need to grab anything, as you calmly, but resolutely, exit the door, and in stride, thank God your are alive and well. Suddenly, “things” are no longer the center of your universe, as they quickly fade and your thoughts dramatically morph into focus. Would it be the “permanent” or “perishable?” Ironically, there is a solace; a haven of rest in the midst of the chaos. Like 9/11, He is there! What do you think?
Mike Pyatt is a Glenrock, WY resident. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org