Three nights ago, we had an electrical house fire. We have been overwhelmed by the
kindness of friends, family and total strangers. Thank you for your support. We very much appreciate it and awoke to find what felt like an outpouring of love and support, which just felt great. We are very appreciative.
Over the past couple of days, I have had some time to process what happened.
I love to write and am grateful that I have this release. I need to talk about things when craziness erupts, as I have found that if I don’t speak about what troubles me, that it gains a certain power over me. However, speaking or writing about it, releases its grip with each time I share.
Over the past couple of days, I find myself drawn to the house. I’ll stand in our burned master bedroom, which reeks of smoke, in silence for long periods of time. In that space, I find myself surrounded by the debris from firefighters overturning things, from water, from my wife and I throwing burning moving boxes out the open sliding door and from the fire itself. It is a significant mess and will probably continue to offer unfortunate discoveries in the coming months, as repairs are made and as we go about our lives and clean up.
It’s been an emotional process. We awoke to flames climbing the wall, igniting our moving boxes (we moved in 2 days before Christmas) and crawling across the ceiling.
When I think back on that night and images that are no doubt branded in my memory, this is what I find:
Gratitude. It sucks to have your house on fire, no doubt. I do not feel despair, defeat, great sorrow, loss or other heavy emotions. They may come, but I hope not. I feel utterly thankful, as we, my family, are all alive.
I imagine the various scenarios that might have occurred, had my wife Krisitna, not woken up. She very literally saved our lives.
When I was twenty one, I discovered the book “A Hero with a Thousand Faces”, written by Joseph Campbell (I am now 38 at the time of this writing). Campbell, a renowned writer and mythologist, made an enormous impact in a number of fields and peoples’ lives by articulating an ancient and omnipresent storytelling structure called the Hero Journey, amongst other remarkable writings he developed. This timeless and universal storytelling structure, which tells of heroes sacrificing and overcoming obstacles, gaining self knowledge, going through the belly of the beast, and of slaying dragons, ultimately achieving self knowledge, has served humanity for eons.
When tragedy strikes, when we are faced with brutal realities of life (like killing to eat), when we encounter great life moments, chaos and crisis, humans have, throughout time, viewed their experience through the lens of myth.
At the age of twenty one, having been so inspired by Campbell’s discoveries and writings, I took on Campbell’s challenge, of his encouraging people, to live mythically, to live, “heroically”, to live as though we are the heroes of our own life stories.
I’ve committed my life to saying, “Yes” to adventure, to all that it holds–good and bad, dark and light. I see myself as the hero of my own life adventure and see others as having individual adventures, themselves.
As I think about that night of the fire, I cannot help but view it through the lens of the Hero Adventure.
Heroes face a ton of obstacles. Look to any favorite movie or novel, fairytale or spoken adventure tale and you will find an individual, couple or group facing and overcoming terrible obstacles.
From a mythic perspective, I believe that the push-back, the size of one’s resistance in their adventures, is in direct proportion to one’s ambitions and energy exerted.
My ambition is to change how artists are educated. That’s a pretty tall order. I’m not surprised that fire erupted in our bedroom as we slept.
In this process of change that I and my family have undergone, attempting to move vast amounts of energy (attempting to create a new standard in arts education), we have faced the sort of obstacles that one might expect in an adventure movie.
I’ll save those stories for another time, but can attest that they are surreal and often not believed upon first account, due to their scope, magnitude and sometime hilarity.
Symbolically speaking (and literally), fire is a cleanser. Fire is one of the great powers of nature, one of the shaping factors of our universe.
My family and I have just completed one epic, multinational, multi year adventure. Another large scale adventure began immediately after, which is where we find ourselves today, at the cross roads of epic adventures.
My wife’s hand will heal from her second degree burns. Our stuff means nothing to us at this point. We are alive. The smoke smell can be removed, the structure rebuilt. We have insurance and we are moving forward. We will deal with whatever blowback we encounter from this terrifying event.
In speaking with a dear friend yesterday, Johnny Kwon, he remarked at the irony of how I have often described entrepreneurship. I’ve often said that as an entrepreneur, I typically feel more like a firefighter than a business leader. It’s my job to put fires out, prevent them from occurring, occasionally encourage them and whenever possible, use their heat as energy. Having now gone through a literal fire and having fought this fire, in nothing but my underwear, I can say now that I have literally fought fire. This experience, I will proudly add to my life resume.
Mythically speaking, I have stood naked before a threat that promised to destroy all that we have and potentially our lives. I faced that threat and fought it. Ultimately, we won.
We have worked so hard to transition from Norway and get into this house. There was no possibility, in my mind, of letting the flame have it.
As I look back on this experience, more than anything, I feel a deep sense of thankfulness and gratitude–especially towards those strangers who have learned of what has happened and have reached out in such a generous and loving fashion.
This experience has reshaped and renewed my perspective on and hope and faith in humanity.
We as a family have survived together. We need each other and are there for each other. I have a feeling that this experience will pull us closer and will be a memory that none of us ever forgets.
The discomfort and inconvenience of the fire, the money we will have to spend and the repair process is a burden now. However, years from now, none of this will mean anything to us. What we will likely remember is the love expressed and felt. We will have memories of adventure and the night we survived the fire.
Heroically speaking, that night, wet and covered in ash, essentially naked and surrounded by smoke, I found myself saying, “I’m still here! Our bedroom is burned, but the house is saved. My wife is burned, but we are all alive. We will rebuild. We will move forward. This has only encouraged me.” I felt a since of victory through my shock.
Again, to each of you who have had us in your thoughts and prayers or have reached out in some way, we would like to say, “Thank you”, again.
To read the original account of this incidence, click HERE.