Last week, as I sat typing out my message for the week, the screen went black and the usually unnoticed hum of my computer groaned into silence.
I sat there a moment - pausing - wondering if it would come back but really, I knew what had happened.
I walked outside for another anxious look.
Last weekend my family and I were in the uncomfortable vicinity of one of the 5 catastrophic level bushfires that were raging across the state in "the worst fire conditions that this state has ever seen" 1
The air was hot and dry. Temperatures were easily into the 40's and only the foolish (or the brave) were outside for long.
We watched out our window to the North-West. A massive column of smoke covered the sky behind a hill which was about a kilometre away. The strong, hot, dry wind blew straight at us from that hill.
We waited, half-expecting the fire to spill over the ridge at any minute and tumble down toward us like some hellish creature.
The RFS website gave us some perspective.
The fire was actually 2. One massive bushfire 110 hectares. And a smaller but more ferocious grassfire - 10 hectares. The first was contained to 'Watch & Act' level but the second was moving rapidly and burning out of control about 5km away.
An automated message came through on the phone:
"A FIRE IN YOUR AREA IS BURNING OUT OF CONTROL.
IT IS TOO LATE TO LEAVE.
TAKE SHELTER IN A SOLID STRUCTURE SUCH AS A HOME.
DEFEND YOURSELF AND CALL 000 IF YOUR LIFE IS UNDER THREAT"
My wife and I did make preparations to fight the fire that day but we didn't really have a plan.
3 things I took away from the experience:
1 - It is too late to start planning when the fire is coming over the hill.
We happened to be reading the Barefoot Investor - a finance book written by a guy who lost everything in a bushfire.
Great book but we knew were not ready (financially or otherwise) to face that sort of devastation. (Who is?)
The RFS website points out that you need to have a plan in the advent of an emergency.
When a fire is near, you can't see properly, you can't breathe well, the weather is crippling to all your rational thought processes - this is not the time to be making life or death choices.
Taking the time to plan in advance can save you.
Lifestyle Design is a guided planning process and it can save your children's future, your marriage, your finances - all the things that matter most to you.
Don't wait to make your plan!
2 - There are only a few things that really matter.
Although our plan was rushed and ad hoc, it forced us to think about what really matters most to us.
What would YOU take if you had to put together an escape package in 20 minutes or less?
For me it was family memories, business and finances. I'd grab our photo drives, the laptop and ID and fiance folders.
I know I could put my hands on all these in about 10 minutes or less and the other 10 minutes would be getting everyone out the door - never an easy task. With those 3 things I know I could draw strength from the past and build a new future.
What about you? (Add a comment below!)
3 - There are heroes all around us.
This week I drove past a hand-painted banner hanging from the local primary school fence. It was decorated with red balloons and glitter and had "Thank you Firies" in black painted letters. Make no mistake this fire did not leave our community unscathed. 6 families lost their homes but a drive through the blackened devastation also revealed properties where the fires had come (literally) up to some peoples doorstep and had been turned back by the courage and commitment of volunteer firefighters - ordinary men and women who were willing to stand in the face of the raging fire to save property and lives. This simple recognition of the fire-fighters valiant actions brought a tear to my eye.
True Love is revealed by fire - in this case literally. Our heroes are all around us. Mums. Dads. Teachers. Farmers. Business-people. YOU!
Remember this next time you are facing a challenge in life or work - the fire you are facing is the opportunity you need to become more than you are!
READY TO BE THE HERO OF YOUR OWN STORY?
1 - NSW Rural Fire Service spokesperson, ABC News 24, 10/2/2017