Today, my family decided to take a small trip up north and go to the beach to enjoy some sunshine. As we were driving up there I noticed some dark smoke coming up over the brim of the treeline to our right. As we drove, maybe 15 seconds further, it was clearly visible that someone’s house was on fire. My girlfriend immediately called 911 as she drove the car trying to find the house to ensure everyone was safe. When we got close enough I told my girlfriend to stop the car, immediately hopped out and ran into the neighborhood. As I turned the initial corner of the development, down the street were two houses, side by side ablaze. I could feel the heat emanating from the fire even when I was still roughly 300 feet away. I ran as fast as I could, passing by other people who were just standing there with their phones out taking pictures or recording what was happening. There was a small group of people right in front of where the houses were on fire, I asked if everyone was OK and if they needed any help. One of the neighbors there mentioned that they didn’t know if one of the adjacent houses had been emptied so we both ran over there banging on their door and ringing their doorbell. To no avail, it appeared no one was home and we proceeded to move to other nearby houses.
Once we had reached the last house, ambulances, fire trucks, police officers had finally arrived on the scene. Taking control of the situation, the firefighters immediately started to control and contain the ongoing fire. As I stood on the corner across the street, I watched intently, while at the same time unaware of where my girlfriend had driven off too. A few minutes passed, I look behind me and I see her running towards me all frantic. The second she reached me, she hugged me with all her might, scared, frightened that something had happened to me possibly since she couldn’t find where I was.
After ensuring that everyone was OK, we walked back to our car, as we were walking I begun to process what had just happened. The empathetic side of me started to consider what these families were going through, “What if that was my house…?” For the rest of the day, I thought more and more about this.
I believe a lot of people either work for themselves or materialistic things, but do those things truly make one happy? If that were me and I was watching everything I own, being burned to ash in front of me, what thoughts would go through my mind? I know first and foremost having my family safe and secure would be of the utmost importance to me. But after that would I be Mad? Scared? Anxious? I can only surmise at this point that I would be very anxious not knowing what tomorrow would hold for us.
Would I be mad or cast blame on the other family, whose house had caught mine on fire even though they had just lost everything as well?
The more I thought about this I began to realize the importance of investing in the people around you rather than yourself or materialistic things. What is the point in having the nicest house or most expensive car, if you are unable to enjoy it with anyone? There ISN’T! Upon buying either of those you’d probably reach a point where you’d get bored and end up buying something else to hold your attention and so on and on… You would never have that sense of fulfillment, which I believe can only come from others and the relationships and bonds you form.
Society has influenced us so much to a point where people feel obligated to look a certain way, own certain things and or treat famous people as gods. Society compels us more and more to be materialistic because it tries to preach THAT is the only way you can be happy.
I know I personally need to be better at cultivating the friendships and relationships I already have in my own life… I also need to create new ones and grow those as well. You can always replace a house, but you can’t replace people. You only get one shot in life and I know I’ve wasted a lot of my life being unproductive and not moving forward, but I will work even harder now on this.
Whether it be your best friend, siblings, parents or whomever, take a moment after reading this, CALL them, and tell them how much you appreciate them being in your life. Who knows what will happen tomorrow, but in the current here and now be proactive and tell those that matter to you that you appreciate them.