What would go through your mind if in one instant, you lost everything you owned?
- All of your clothes except what you were wearing that day
- One-of-a-kind family pictures
- Financial, legal and medial documents
- Your 300 DVD movie collection, and more.
If you lost all of that in an instant, what kind of thoughts would be running through your mind?
How shocked would you be? Would you be worried, heartbroken or upset?
All of the above?
What is left, after you have lost “everything?”
After you lose everything, all that remains is everything you need
It’s only when I lost everything that I found what truly mattered in my life.
There’s a deeply personal story that I’d like to share with you. It’s one of those experiences that changes your life forever. An experience that hurts you but ultimately leaves you a better person.
As hard as they may be, you can recover from these things. You can prevail. You can rebuild. You can stay on top of your emotions and thoughts that’ll be going frantic.
Reconnecting with nature
Several years back, the misses and I were living in the Colorado mountains for the summer. It was about 45 minutes from town, completely detached from everything.
Dirt roads cut through tall rows of Aspen trees. Dense patches of forest open up to valleys that span thousands of acres.
Every morning, slicing through the cool mountain air in my old Chevy Blazer, we’d pass herds of wild elk and deer. The elk, standing as tall as my truck, cross in front of us in packs of 10 or more.
In the evenings, we’d drink wine, watch the sunset and get ready for the nature show. If you’re quiet, the deer come down from the tree line and surround your camp. Pour another glass and enjoy the show from your living room. You’ve got the real nature channel – no cable hookup required.
One time, not 50ft away from us, we watched two young male deer put on a wrestling match for the girls.
First row seat to the circle of life. That’s providence, is it not?
Curve balls and gut checks
On one very peculiar morning the misses and I got a phone call at work – the kind that makes your heart stop.
Your house is on fire!
Sure enough, by the time it was spotted was already engulfed in flames.
As you can imagine, we were floored. We scooped our hearts up from the floor, jumped in the Blazer and began the solemn drive back up to the mountains.
Ever drive somewhere and know deep down, you’re going to hate it when you get there? You don’t want to, but it’s time to face a shitty situation.
After what seemed like hours, we finally rolled up to our spot. Sure enough, nothing but ashes, metal scraps and random bits of our lives remained.
I had my jeans and shoes on, a shirt, and a jacket. Luckily, that morning I gave the misses my extra winter jacket for our ride down to work. She had that and her clothes. Plus the truck I was driving. Everything else gone.
The fire department said it was an electrical fire.
Ironically, we were set to move down for the summer just one day later.
So what the hell does that mean?
Looking for the good
When something traumatic happens, finding the positive silver lining can help get you back on track. It soothes pain and calms the mind. Otherwise, negative thoughts will carry you to places that you don’t want to go.
Back to the house fire.
It was an electrical fire that happened a while after we left for work. What if it happened instead while we were sleeping?
We could have easily been killed in our sleep.
Holding her hand and thinking about this, I began to see that I hadn’t lost everything.
Everything that really mattered was still here. Stuff can be replaced. New copies of banking and legal docs can be reordered. It can all be put back together in time.
Is it a life cleanse?
That type of experience leaves you a lot lighter. For better or worse, you are starting fresh.
Was this an indirect benefit? Perhaps so.
When you lose something, it creates a void. Life is magnetically drawn to voids, in an attempt to fill them. Opportunities are drawn to voids.
The empty space is free to be occupied by something greater than what you had before.
Sometimes we lose something (a loved one dies or your house blows up) and other times we proactively remove something (ex-BF/GF or bad habits) from our life. Either way, that free space is pure growth potential.
Yeah, if your house burns down, you definitely get to buy a new wardrobe. This makes you re-evaluate everything you own, because it must be repurchased. You find out quickly what was of true value and what was old junk.
— Derek Wolf (@DerekMWolf) May 28, 2015
If you have a lot of possessions, it can be a real energy drain. There is a mysterious correlation: the more stuff you have around you, the more chaotic the energy is. Especially if you’re surrounded by a lot of electronic devices.
That might sound like “woo,” but think of it in terms of stress. Simple living, with few possessions of high quality and value, is much less stressful than pack-rat living.
After going through a traumatic situation like this, you will be grateful for what you DO have. The people you love, trust and share your life with. The food you eat tastes better. The smell of rain becomes enchanting again, like when you were a kid.
You’re more apt to stop and smell the roses. Things like TV fade out of your life and clear way to spending more time playing outdoors, reading and exploring the world. There is deep contentment within you, where you stand, and you can just be once again.
How to recover from deep loss
I am a simple man. If I lose or get rid of something, and my gut doesn’t kick me in the balls every day thereafter for making the wrong choice, then I know it was for the better.
Think of a time when you had to end a business or personal relationship. If it needed to end, often you’ll feel relieved almost immediately afterwards. After the emotions subside you are happier afterwards.
If you suffer a great loss, first just take a moment to gather your wits. Establish that you’re alright at the most basic level.
Our place blew up, but we were not in it. There was no threat as if we were stuck in the fire.
In a case like that, take note that you are physically alright. Yeah, you lost everything, but you’ve still got yourself. Everything can get rebuilt from there.
Have you lost a loved one? That is very traumatic. Last fall I lost my father and that was terribly challenging.
But the process is the same. Ground yourself with the understanding that you’re still present and are able to take things one step at a time. Everything sucks at that point but you have to march forward.
Remember that you have everything you need.
YOU are everything you need.
In your mind, heart and soul lies everything you need.
Everything you have or experience in life is all made possible by what’s inside you. Nobody can take that power away from you… although you have to be brave enough to use it.
That’s why even when you lose everything, you’ve still got everything you need.