At the end of July 2014, I suffered a huge injury that subsequently ended my ballet aspirations as I knew them. Years of training, precision and study — gone. Just like that. I was overwhelmed with the truth that a dream was gone. It was a major turning point in my life, but I fell into a very dark pit of despair, and something that was such a big part of me was now a shadow. I didn’t think I would ever recover. I shut down for a very long time.
In May of 2015 I took a job at a Wolf and Husky rescue way up north in my native province of Saskatchewan. There is nothing up there and it was, for the most part, completely desolate. I spent most of my days alone in the wild working with the dogs, hardly talking to anyone for the first two months. (I now understand cabin fever! Whoa…) As Spring turned to Summer, the inevitable happened – the forest fires started.
They began in June close to where our camp was. Over the next week they were in full force and soon the smoke blew to our direction. The sun became a blood red disk in the sky, and I wouldn’t see a normal blue sky for 42 days. People who had been evacuated, having lost everything, were being moved to where we were, and soon we were all camping together like a band of thieves in Sherwood forest.
By the end of July, the fires had burned everything away, their flames traveling further from us as there was nothing left to devour. I stood in an apocalyptic world, resembling the eerily still world I had only seen in video games prior to that point. I hiked up to the top of a very steep hill one day and stood there, looking out over the desolation of a blackened forest. For miles and miles, as far as I could see, nothing was left. The sight left quite a mark on me. I stood there with my Husky companion beside me thinking, “How will any of this ever recover? How will any of this ever grow again? Is it even possible that there will be green here again?” There was no way there would ever be trees again, I thought. It will be dead forever.
I was wrong.
It was like nature was kicked into overdrive. Growth started almost immediately after the ground stopped steaming. Everyday I would wake up and the colours were more vibrant and intense than the day before. I started taking that hike often and was shocked with the speed that things were growing. By the time I left, the view from the top of that hill had completely transformed. Nothing but lush greens, strength and life as far as my eyes could see.
There never is an end of the line. In fact, there never is an end. When you think you have gone as far as you can go, if you stick around long enough, you will see that you only needed to take a rest. You can always recover. There is always something else to be done. Growth is infinite. You will have the strength to get back up again. It may not be tomorrow, or a month from now – but it will happen.
I think a lot of people get hooked to one story. I did. I thought dance was my life – guess what? It wasn’t. I eventually came to terms with it. Yes, I mourned the loss, but that injury was only the end of a story, and I soon found myself on an entirely new one. When things leave you, or die, or fall away – it brings vacant space. New thoughts, definitely new perspective, and you find yourself thinking, “Maybe I don’t actually love dancing ballet as much as I thought I did. Even more shocking, maybe I don’t want to dance anymore” (trust me, it hurts like hell. But hey, it looks nice.)
On the other side of fire, there is always new life.
Written by Scarlett Fawn, founder of Chasing West – www.twitter.com/thescarlettfawn