After a seven-hour journey, Rachael Sellars and I reached our hotel suite in Copper Mountain, Colorado. It was July 3, and we were there for Wanderlust—the annual mountaintop yoga/music/hula-hoop fest—she to teach, and I to assist her.
It was late, and I was tired, but Rachael’s first class wasn’t until noon the next day, so I spent a while unwinding the way reporters do: I checked my Las Vegas newsfeed. With growing dismay, I read the first five alerts:
(1) Two more people died in the heat wave, for a total of three. (2) Hundreds of people rioted at a soccer game, hospitalizing several. (3) Medical examiners ruled that guards who restrained an inmate at the county detention center, suffocating him to death, had committed homicide. (4) Eyewitnesses said a tornado touched down in North Las Vegas. (5) The Carpenter Canyon fire spread to nearly 2,000 acres —an amount that now, after the fire spread to more than 27,000 acres, seems miniscule.
What the hell? What was becoming of my city? I had a sudden compulsion to give up four long-planned, anxiously awaited days of yoga, hiking and meditation, repack my bags and head home, where, obviously, I was needed for … something.
Instead, I closed my eyes and listened to my breath. After a few minutes, I fell asleep, the chaos in my head crowded out by fatigue.
Over the days that followed, I met many Las Vegans—there, like me, to escape the heat and Zen out. At first, we’d lament the goings-on back home, but as the festival’s vibe took hold, we stopped talking about the fire and pretty much anything else other than the classes we’d just taken. Our loved ones were in our hearts, but our minds were on our mats.
By Sunday, I’d stopped checking my newsfeed altogether. I came home, better prepared to face the present, flames and all.