After a fire…

None of us really ever knows what lays ahead. We may feel completely secure in our current circumstances and relationships. Our career may appear on an upward trajectory. Our health is robust. Our friends and family strong and nurturing. We seem to breeze through each day with life unfolding as it has in the past. In a single moment, everything can change…and we are left wondering about the future after a fire has struck in our lives. It may be the loss of a loved one. A job. An ended relationship. A change in our health. A physical disaster, or other personal tragedy.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 22.9mm, efov 61.8mm, ISO 160, 1/100, f/5.6

We can feel completely empty. Only a shell of our former selves.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 11.5mm, efov 31.1mm, ISO 800, 1/250, f/6.3

The previous vantage point through which we experienced the world around us is gone.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 87.3mm, efov 235.7mm, ISO 800, 1/320, f/6.3

We can become disoriented as a new reality sets in. Our world can appear as something disturbed, twisted.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, ISO 800, 1/160, f/6.3

It can be difficult not to try to hold on to the past. To avoid the realities of today, by immersing ourselves in the comfort and memories of what was.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 48mm, efov 129.6mm, ISO 800, 1/100, f/6.3

There can be self-doubt and recrimination. We may blame ourselves for missing warning signs. Or, wonder if we somehow fueled the events that have overtaken us.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 92.8mm, efov 250.6mm, ISO 800, 1/250, f/6.3

The realization comes that we must rebuild…to continue to grow.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 83.2mm, efov 224.6mm, ISO 800, 1/160, f/5.6

The challenge is not an easy one. There may be parts of our lives from which we will now remain forever separated.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 88.7mm, efov 239.5mm, ISO 800, 1/200, f/5.6

We know it is time to move forward. To break away from that which is not salvageable.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 19.2mm, efov 51.8mm, ISO 800, 1/125, f/6.3

How much of our past life that will be stripped away is often a complete unknown.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 20.3mm, efov 54.8mm, ISO 800, 1/800, f/6.3

Even as we attempt to face the future, there may be times when our emotions can overwhelm us…when we feel that all is lost. That nothing will survive amid the turmoil and disruption. We can question our own resolve and ability to tackle the challenges facing us. Whether we are truly up to overcoming them. As we open ourselves up completely to contemplating what the future may bring, we discover a truth.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 12.1mm, efov 32.7mm, ISO 800, 1/1000, f/6.3

When we look, we find that there is hope. There is something on which we can rebuild our future. It may be a particular talent. A memory. A kind act from a friend or stranger. The burning that comes from deep within to keep on our path, regardless of the obstacles we face. A sense of purpose that guides our lives.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 11.5mm, efov 31.1mm, ISO 800, 1/800, f/6.3

We have been impacted by life events, but we pick ourselves up and resolutely press forward. We are still here..still breathing. We still have the gift of life, and ultimately what we do with that precious gift is all that really matters.

Technical Note:
All images were captured hand-held in available light using Nikon 1 gear as noted in the EXIF data. All photographs in this article were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO OpticsPro 11, CS6 and the Nik Collection.

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8 thoughts on “After a fire…”

  1. Hi Tom, Wonderful article. Although our losses are vastly different, reading; “That nothing will survive amid the turmoil and disruption. We can question our own resolve and ability to tackle the challenges facing us.” was just what I needed to see. I’ve found myself out of corporate America and trying to launch a small business, while serving as full time caregiver to my 15 year old son.

    After 30 years I am returning to photography as a profession. It’s the one thing that I knew I could blend with our crazy life. Who knew that something I had to leave in my past because of the evening and weekend schedule, would be my saving grace decades later. Thank you for the inspiration! I’m looking forward to further reading on your site. ~ Cheers

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Thanks for your comment! Knowing that an article was helpful for a reader is one of the things that keeps me going here. My best wishes for a successful return to your photographic career!

  2. Tom. One can relate this message to any unforeseen change within their lives or those around them. What once was will change and sometimes change is harsh and unwelcome, though we need to persevere as difficult as it may be.
    Thank you for the reminder that we are all to be grateful for that which we have at any given moment.

  3. Wonderful article full of feelings and deep thoughts – thank you! I have never experienced a home fire but we have all gone through the pain of change and loss. I also enjoyed the photos. Number four is my favorite one of this set.

  4. Thanks for this article and your understanding of the trauma it causes. I lost my home of 35 years in the High Park fire in CO in 2012, and so did 258 more people. Starting over is hard, and I have endured and created a new home.

    1. Hi Pam,
      Thank you for your comment and sharing your personal experience with loss. As noted in your comment, ‘starting over is hard’. It is heartening to read that you endured and created a new home.

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