I consider myself fortunate to live in the beautiful foothills of Colorado. But much Like California and Washington, it has been devastated this year by raging wildfires.

I got close enough to experience the suffocating smoke that threatened to overtake COVID as an immediate health risk.

I was driving into the hills North West of Denver near Estes Park when I encountered an impenetrable wall of smoke. By the time I realized its density and magnitude I was fully engulfed.

The Southeastern Colorado Winds Carried The Thick Smoke Hundreds of Miles.

The lack of visibility made it impossible to continue forward. And the risk of being hit by another car or truck, if I were to backup was extremely high.

The Real Smoke Screen

The only confident thing I could do was pull to the side, and wait for some semblance of visibility. It too was a risk.

While I sat in my car, hoping the dense smoke wasn’t immediately accompanied by that bright red and yellow hot stuff, I was listening to the local talk radio for some news.

But honestly, between the smoke and the talk radio fear and doomsday rhetoric, I would have thought the world was coming to an end and that the new Masia had just arrived.

Of course, neither one was or is true.

However, at that moment I began to experience an emotional smokescreen that had me blind to anything psychologically positive.

Nothing was making sense in that moment…

“Why is the world so f—ed up? “What’s going to happen to the economy?” “Why are so many people suffering?” “Why is there so much hate?”

“Am I going to make it the hell out of here…alive?”

These were the negative thoughts swirling around in my head.

After turning off the radio and slowly backing out of my predicament (I had no choice), shaking off this acute sense of foreboding required quite a bit of refocusing.

The Opportunity

The experience gave me an opportunity to recognize how easily outside influences and skewed perspectives can hijack and radically redirect our emotions, thoughts, and infect out attitude.

After-all, earlier that day, when I pulled out of the driveway, all was right with the world (well almost). By the time I had sat, engulfed in the smoke, listening to the doomsday talk for 20 minutes it was indeed the end of the world.

It’s Not All Bad…

“A negative attitude is more likely to yield bad results and a positive attitude supports good results. It’s easier to destroy something than it is to build it.”

If we removed ourselves from the smoke screen and stopped to notice, all the good going on around us, we would be compelled to contribute in some way.

Hungry, stray dogs are being rescued.

The Homeless are being fed.

IRAs are increasing in value.

Jobs are being created.

Every doorway has packages stacking up.

So much more…

There’s even some good in the struggle we all face right now. The fact that we are all in this together and not struggling alone is a really good thing.

Small Town Effect

I’m very fortunate to live in a small town-home community where my neighbors are close and I know almost all of them.

There was a time when I hated that. Too freaking close!

Now I’m grateful to have people around me I can support and can count on for support…even if we are wearing masks.

I would encourage you to not only look for the good around you – but also where you can do good.

It’s easier than you might think.

I’m sure you can come up with a much longer list but here’s five simple thing you can do starting today.

  • Do you have an elderly neighbor that could use support? Stop by and see how they’re doing or ask if you can pick something up on your next trip to the grocer.
  • Is there’s an old friend you haven’t spoken to in some time? Call to check-in.
  • What about that kid down the street with no friends? Offer him a job racking your lawn or shoveling snow for a few bucks and create a connection.
  • Stray dog or cat…don’t ignore it. Do what you can do to help. Call Animal Control or see if you can get it off the street yourself. (Don’t go chasing any Coyotes)
  • Contribute a positive, uplifting, thought, experience or story as a post on social media. (here’s an idea…share this one)

Doing these things isn’t just about the old lady, long lost friend, lonely kid, or the stray animal – it is about you. When you do good, it resonates inside and around you on a very high level and attracts more of the same into your life.

You’ll begin to see more good stuff, experience more good stuff, and start to believe there is good stuff happening all over the world.

It might begin with recognizing the direction the prevailing winds are taking your thoughts and feelings. If you suspect they’re not moving you towards your true north – I suggest you put on your windbreaker and push back.

Now that’s GOOD STUFF.

Please connect with me on FB – https://www.facebook.com/tomterwilliger/