Monday’s Meditation: On Fighting Fires
Many months ago now, back when I was living in my old house, I happened to be working from home for the day. It was the start of summer, and I had the windows cracked open, letting in the breeze and the sounds of neighbor kids playing.
I was probably writing a blog post at the time when the sudden pop and crackle of an explosion sounded, followed by the whole house coming to the halt and silence that is the loss of electricity.
The neighbor kids halted their play, and had turned their attention to the scene developing on the next block. Other neighbors had come outside to see what was going on as well, and me, being a tad bored, joined them.
A crew of construction workers had struck a main power line, cutting power to the entire neighborhood, and somehow the accident had caused two front lawns to spontaneously, and, I should say, quite strangely, erupt in flames. The workers ran here and there, shouting at each other and working to kill the flames.
I stood chatting with some neighbors, watching the scene unfold, listening as the sound of sirens filled the early summer day.
From behind me, further down the block in the opposite direction as the fire, a man wobbled by. “Hurry it up,” he was saying to his young son, who was scampering along beside him. The man was hugging a bucket filled with water, which he hauled forward with determined effort.
The fire truck might have arrived by then, I can’t remember, but there were no less than a dozen police cars. We lived around the block from a main power center for the whole city, evidently, meaning some worker’s “oopsie” was in fact a major mistake.
Undeterred by the sight of the authorities, the man crossed the street, heading straight towards the action, while the little boy ran to keep up.
Eventually the power came back on, and though two lawns were charred in the process, we all carried on fine enough.
I never thought about the incident again. Until last Thursday night.
I couldn’t fall asleep. I should have been able to, I was, after all, exhausted, but instead I lay there for hours, trying this position, and then that one, and slipping into inexplicable trains of thought the way one does when vastly over tired but not yet asleep.
And in the darkness of 2am, that man waddling a bucket of water down the block popped up in my mind clear as day.
What did he think he was doing? In the moment, he had appeared to me as almost sweetly pathetic. I mean, here they had access to the fire hydrant; did this guy really believe they needed his one bucket full of water?
In fairness, I never saw how much of a difference his water made. But I’m also not sure that matters.
In the darkness, it occurred to me that his response hadn’t been pathetic; it had been odd.
There the rest of us onlookers were, standing there, and there he was, having taken it as his duty to assist, behaving as if the only thing one might do in such a situation was to fill up whatever vessel one had with water and lug it over to help. Like it was obvious. Like it was the thing that is done. Like he had practice.
He represented some kind of societal throwback, a relic to a time when there was such thing as a village, and its villagers understood their duty to serve each other and the whole.
He had been the exception. His response, so beautifully uncommon and unexpected.
So I guess in the end, you can be the person standing on the street watching, or you can be the one carrying a bucket of water to help out. And even if the fire’s dead, and even if your water isn’t really needed, won’t it have felt more important to be engaged in contributing?
Let’s bring our buckets filled.
Let’s never assume the other guys got this.
Let’s remember the fact that the key to the kingdom that is this world is still doing the right thing.
Fill your bucket.
Carry it proudly.
Pour water on what or whom you encounter that needs it.
Other Posts You May Love
Search The Blog
Simplify Your World
Sign up for the email list to get inspiration and simplified tips sent right to your inbox.