Practicing Awareness in Times of Uncertainty

***This is a teaching and practice from buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hahn

Last fall all of Marin and much of the Bay Area was plunged into darkness as fire fear descended on our part of California.

After the long and hot summer has dried the earth and vegetation that makes much of our open spaces, we move into fire season. Diablo winds (for Southern Californian’s these are essentially the same as the Santa Anas) push warm hot wind from inland out toward the bay and Pacific Ocean. The strong and dry winds have notoriously taken electric towers down, or brought trees down into power lines- both of which can create a spark that sets off wildfires and threatens communities where people dwell at the wilderness urban interface (such as my hometown of Fairfax).

In response to so much recent destruction and in attempt to discourage the ignition of devastating fires, the local electric company has developed a protocol of shutting down our access to power during the riskiest weather. At our apartment, warnings from our power/ electric utility had been coming in the form of texts and leaflets- warning residents in our area that they may conduct county wide shut downs up to as long as five days.

I really didn’t realize all that our power does for us until we spent the week without it.

The most important loss I felt was safety. Without our utilities, we can’t access our wifi. Many of the alerts that emergency and county systems use rely on our cell service staying intact. Without power we were cut off from communication at a time of great vulnerability.

My husband was still able to go to work as all way status quo just 20 miles away in San Francisco- but I wasn’t so lucky. I wasn’t able to see my clients. Gas stations and all methods of electronic transmissions (ATMs etc) were inoperable. People in Marin drove the 20 miles south into the city to fill up their tanks at crowded stations. Only o