From the flames

Earlier this year, while casting about for a better employment situation, I applied for a position with another division of Microsoft, and went up to Redmond for a series of interviews with the product team.

My interview with the team manager took place over lunch at a Thai restaurant in a strip mall. After the meal, the manager mentioned that the restaurant we'd just visited used to be a few doors down, in the center of the strip rather than at the end; it had moved, she said, after a car had plowed through its front window and caused a great deal of destruction. The good news, she said, was that the restaurant's business was markedly better in the new location than it had been previously.

She then mentioned a study she'd read about that focused on the victims of a wildfire in the Los Angeles area. In one neighborhood, all of the homes had been destroyed, with the exception of one that was spared because the owner sprayed it with his hose while the fire blazed. A few years later, researchers checked in with the residents of the neighborhood to measure their levels of happiness and satisfaction with their lives; their findings suggested that almost to a person, the residents were happier and more content than they had been before the fire. The one exception was the man who'd saved his house; he exhibited more stress and less contentment.

It goes to show, the manager said, that sometimes you need to let the upheavals in life be not just annoyances and disappointments, but pathways to better things.

So I'll try. Because what else can I do? When what you've known and loved meets the front grill of a rapidly moving car or the flames of a wildfire, you can either stand around and rue the destruction or you can pick up the pieces and rebuild. For the sake of strength and sanity, I need to choose the latter and hope that from the broken glass, from the ashes, I'll pick myself up again.

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