I was rudely awoken at 3:33am today by the fire alarms going off in my block. Bleary eyed, I clambered out of bed and stumbled into the hallway to see what all the ruckus was about.
My mind racing, my first thought was which clothes to throw on, and how I was going to somehow evacuate both myself and my less-than-compliant cat who hates being carried!
I was half expecting somebody to have burnt their dinner (again), but to my shock I discovered that the school next door on fire in a big way. A neighbour was already in our hallway and told us that the fire was so intense that our smoke detectors had picked it up and triggered our alarm system. Fortunately our building was not affected, and we could stay put – for now.
I silently thanked the Angels for keeping us safe, and we hurried to the back windows to see the fire brigade on site battling huge orange flames on the roof of one building, a mere 20 feet or so away from us, spraying down water from atop a crane positioned overhead.
Photo taken from our back window by my lovely flat-mate Michelle
As the flames licked their way towards our building, our bathroom started to fill with the choking, acrid smoke which had seeped in through the extractor fan mounted on the back wall.
Well, at least we had discovered that our fire alarms worked in a real-life situation, so every cloud and all that…
One of our neighbours from a flat above us had been watching the unfortunate spectacle which had been going on for around 45 minutes at that point. She turned off the internal fire alarm system at the main control box to prevent us being deafened.
It was a particularly cold night with lows of minus 2 degrees C and smatterings of snow the previous day. Not the most clement of weather for an evacuation.
As I stood shivering in my pyjamas in our freezing cold hallway, it got me thinking.
I’m not usually one to dwell on what-ifs, but the sheer intensity of the heat and flames leaping from the next door building, the destruction and seeming helplessness of the 35 fire fighters to do very much about it, put some things back into perspective for me.
It reminded me just how fragile we are, how transient our existence and just how impermanent everything really is.
One minute here we are, carrying on with our lives and making such a fuss about silly little trivial things, then the next we can be gone, engulfed in a ball of flames like the unfortunate (although thankfully empty) school next to us.
It felt like a stark reminder not to sweat the small stuff, to remember what and whom really matter and not to lose sight of the bigger picture. The small things, the trivia, the drama and gossip, the petty people who hurt us. None of these things really matter. All that matters is the people who care about us now, the people who stayed with us, the ones we love.
Our earth family.
I couldn’t help but notice the precise time that the alarms went off in my block 3:33. The number Three relates to awareness, observation and the ability to reflect. Maybe the universe was trying to get my attention, to remind me what really matters in life. Recently I’ve found myself bogged down with things that really don’t matter, plagued with self-doubt and unhelpful thoughts. It’s time for a change.
The people you care about and who love you are all that matters. Not the stuff, the job, the car, the toys, the house or the designer labels. They’re all replaceable. They don’t mean anything.
Things don’t matter, people do.
So I’m finding myself repeating words that I’ve heard many time before, but so often forgotten, caught up in the petty dramas of daily modern life.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. It really doesn’t matter.
If you love somebody, let them know it.
Live in the moment, and enjoy your life fully. You never know how long you have left!
Look for the joy and appreciate the “small” things, the love & friendships, the beauty of a sunrise, your child’s smile. Because when you shift your perception and finally get things into perspective, you’ll see they were actually the big things all along.