It seems like every second, no matter where you turn, the Earth is angry with us. Between hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and wild fires, we are on the verge of destruction. As an east-coaster, I am no stranger to hurricanes. With the joy of September and reaching the apex of fall comes the acceptance of hurricane season. A few years back, I lived through my first earthquake, which was a terrifying experience. I remember the earth trembling underneath me, growling with every undulation. . . However, it’s a dream of mine to live on the West Coast and I must accept that natural disasters will become somewhat of a normality.
I belief life is about balance. I balance my desire to live in warm weather year round with the very real possibility that I will live through earthquakes and wildfires. I balance this possibility with my willingness to be able to walk away from my material possessions if push came to shove. . .
Today, I write about Switchfoot, one of my favorite bands growing up. I saved my allowance money and bought as many of their albums that I could find. I remember being very inspired by Jon Foreman’s lyrics and I’d challenge myself to write my own songs and push myself lyrically. As a musician, they’re probably one of my biggest influences even to this day. I eventually saw them in concert twice, in Richmond VA, where I went to college. At the end of their shows, Foreman sometimes has an aftershow somewhere outside the arena where he performs a couple extra songs with and for the fans. Basically having a jam session with a crowd of people. The energy that he and the crowd exudes is indescribable. Foreman is a vessel of light and positivity that radiates onto those around him.
For the past week, If The House Burns Down Tonight has been stuck in my head. The song was inspired after an encounter with a deadly wildfire.
His words tell the story much stronger:
“A few months back, a fire was raging through our home-town of San Diego. And when an unstoppable fire is barrelling down towards your part of town, you realize just how small you really are. The smoke blocks out the sun, the ash is falling from the sky, and your lungs begin to burn. So you run through the house and make a quick grab of the stuff you can carry, make sure that your family is safe in the car, and you make your escape.
And in that moment of action, you have an epiphany:
Compared to the ones you love, what is ownership? What is property? Stuff? Possessions? In moments of life and death, these obsessions are meaningless. Think about what you would save from the fire. What would you fight for? Or maybe the real question is who- who would you risk your life for? And what about your things, all of that stuff that you paid so much for? In the crucible of the fire, it becomes crystal clear: you let the rest burn.”
There’s a line that sticks out to me, that I always circle back to : “There’s a fire coming that we all will go through/You possess your possessions or they possess you”.
In this life, we will all be tested eventually. And in that moment, we have to assess our priorities. Do we prioritize the material – our houses, our cars, our smartphones, our social status, our notoriety? Or do we prioritize our lives and the lives around us? If your material possessions dictate your state of happiness, what do you choose in the face of emergency?
Life is about balance. It’s okay to live in a nice house and drive a nice car and buy the latest iPhone. But when push comes to shove, we have to be okay with letting things go. Wherever this afterlife takes us, surely we cannot take our possessions with us.
The truth is what remains.
Listen to If The House Burns Down Tonight On:
P.S: The featured image is a picture I took of Jon at the aftershow.