No, I haven’t been hanging out in a hash bar.
This is Central Oregon in the summertime, where a weird convergence of dry, desert landscape, big trees, and frequent late-summer lightning storms results in an abundance of forest fires each year.
Currently, more than half-a-dozen fires are burning over 60,000 acres. That might sound like a lot, but it’s actually a pretty slow fire season for us.
There are obvious downsides to having everything around you in flames. Aside from the occasional risk of, you know, BURNING TO DEATH, you deal with runny eyes and noses, occasional breathing difficulties, hazy skies, and hair that smells like you’ve been rolling in an ashtray.
But there’s an upside to all the summer forest fires. Every year, I make it a point to pour myself a glass of wine, retreat to my back deck around 8 p.m., and revel in that upside.
Yes, the forest fires make for excellent sunsets. The smoky haze creates an incredible filter for the slowly sinking sun, sending up bursts of technicolor orange, yellow, red, and a whole lot of other colors seldom found in the Crayola box.
Even after a few glasses of sunset-enhancing wine, the metaphor isn’t lost on me. No matter what sort of lousiness life might throw at you, there’s always something positive you can take away from it. Even when everything goes up in smoke, there’s an upside somewhere. Always.
You just have to look for it.
That’s true whether you’re talking about natural disasters, setbacks in your writing career, trauma in your personal life, or walking face-first into a door at work and breaking your nose but being kinda glad you did it because you didn't get stuck in that boring 10:30 meeting.
My first book deal that fell through in 2006 when Harlequin canceled the Bombshell line?
I'm so glad now that book never hit shelves. My writing has improved and my voice has changed to the point that I almost don't recognize that story as something I produced.
The unexpected divorce that gobsmacked me earlier this year?
I would never have known how much happier I could be if I hadn't been hit squarely between the eyes by that two-by-four.
Can you think of a time you were surrounded by crummy stuff but saw a silver lining anyway? Is it generally tough or easy for you to do? Please share!
And if you’re having trouble coming up with something, I’d like to humbly invite you to my back deck this evening.
I’ll supply the wine.