Updated: Nov 20, 2019
By, Will Schofield
Thursday, November 8th began with the usual coffee, then prompt of the news. Flicking on the television I was taken aback. Unlike the usual banter that I've grown accustomed to hearing, the breaking story didn't involve politics. At least at this point in the story, the politics had not made their way into the subject. The Borderline shooting in Thousand Oaks was discussed with images of first responders, cops, and people fleeing the scene of the bar that prior evening. In shock, and near dismay, I doubted that I had even woke to that particular story actually being true in nature. The closeness and resounding impact brought me back a week prior where my college campus became the site of an incident involving an individual brandishing a gun in a restroom. I questioned if this has really become so much the norm nowadays.
Shifting my attention to the direct necessity of attending my job, I made my way out to Thousand Oaks for work. Once at work, the surprise and shock were even more palpable. As a group, we discussed the events, some of which involved concerns for direct relationships of those with whom we later found to be deceased victims. Certainly, there are many times these types of events are brought to our attention, though, this one was right at our door. That Thursday progressed, with the oddity of its surrealism when the news spread of the fires that were encroaching on our office. We evacuated our workplace where we were met with the vibration of panic and fright from the surrounding areas. The streets outside of our office were gridlocked as plumes of smoke stood looming. After finally making it to the 101 going South the disarray was evident, the freeway headed North had been shut down, and all of this was incredibly way too close to home. These feelings of intrusion, dismay, concern, and confusion were fraught with gratitude, and misunderstanding, frustration, and stillness. Watching the news after returning home there wasn't a way to answer some of the questions about what the next day may bring.
Waking up on Friday, November 9th, the morning continued to usher in different unknowns. The power was out, my personal cell phone dead, and no cellular bars on my work line. All resources of modern communication which I take for granted were no longer available. Finding bumper to bumper traffic on Pacific Coast Highway, local anecdotes became my base for information. I extrapolated what I could gather, and evacuated my area as well. Grabbing only the necessities, I knew there were plenty of things that I was leaving behind; these were valuable, inherited- objects, fiscally inexpensive, but emotively precious items. Many of these were not replaceable, even so- if they were, the memories that associated me with those items would have felt vapid with replacement.
Very fortunately, a shelter was provided by loved ones. Both friends and family created the space for me to try and unwind during the following days when in a daze I tried my hand at working remotely. Whilst becoming transfixed to the television screen and alerts on my phone, my practice in refreshing numerous searches to investigate the progress of the Woolsey fire and understand any variances and insight into where the flames progressed proved futile and my heart ached for everyone impacted. My heart hurt for those in the community who were impacted by the shooting, and now the fire. The fire appeared to be a rapacious exoneration on the grieving community. For the next few days as the winds hardened and the fiery flames edged the shores of Malibu, time stood still and the memories blurred. Like a zombie there eroded the possibility that nearly everything I owned may actually be gone. I'm not sure what I would do then. There didn't appear to be any answers and as the days dragged on with the only hope and thoughts the news seemingly could muster was that if the winds were to cease, the firefighters would stand a chance. Northern California was also ablaze, and even so, the coverage appeared to be broken apart to still provide the rest of Los Angeles with the remainder of the news. The winds broke their allegiance to the fire and provided a reprieve. All the while I sat in dismay, men and women had been fighting to save the properties of their friends, neighbors, and total strangers. Amassed by splintered resources the fire was slowly relinquished and prevented from spreading much further, notification rang of the opportunity to return home. With feelings of guilt and excitement, a mix of emotions brought about the joy of returning home to my own space again. Others, too many others, were not able to do the same. The resources of these communities have provided many with the necessary ability to find some semblance of comfort in such trying times. People helping people has revealed the continued healing power that we all can assist in creating when situations such as these two tragedies occur. As a team here at Mindfulpath we hope that our services include the opportunity and space for you to connect with our team and the healing that a community can provide.
These situations bring with them confusion. Many times the emotions felt are met with contradictory insights. We may find ourselves reeling in pain and laughing about loss following a traumatic event. The waves of emotions will also come and go. For our community, many have just settled into their experience as well. We hope that you join us in our community event and are to discuss and hear some of the same emotions that are felt by others whose experiences may be completely different. The acknowledgment and healing of the recent shooting and the fires are guaranteed to take time, but you are not alone. As a community, we were affected, and as a COMMUNITY we will heal.
Sent with immense gratitude and a heavy heart,