Stop. Drop. And Roll

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” 
Joan Didion

For those of us who live in, or are from, the Southwestern part of the United States, forest fires have become a common place summer occurrence. It’s perhaps because of the increased frequency of these incidents that as a child I was taught to “Stop, Drop, and Roll.” 

This year, as the Pine Gulch Fire continues to burn, I find myself noticing how different all of this feels to me.

First, there was a subtle mesquite odor that permeated the air in a comforting coming home to a warm cooked meal type of way. This smell was soon accompanied by small white particles of ash that softly descended like snowflakes. And now, as the Colorado sky begins to clear, exposing bits and pieces of the magnanimous Rocky Mountains, I find myself thinking about the phrase I was taught by rote. 

“Stop. Drop. And Roll.” 

As I have been thinking about this phrase, I have become curious about how this instructional formula might apply to other areas of our lives where different types of fires occur.

For instance, in the heat of an argument, what would happen if we stoped what we were doing, dropped our attachment to the argument we were attempting to make, and mentally rolled over the possibility that another person, with a potentially divergent perspective, might have an equally valid point? 

Likewise, when experiencing some type of stimulation within our bodies – whether there was pleasure, friction, or simply the sensation of engagement – what space might be created if we were to stop for a moment? And in that momentary pause, drop our resistance to whatever was or wasn’t happening, and instead just allowed ourselves to go with the flow – or, sticking with this theme, “roll with the punches”?
This line of inquiry has led to the following questions that I wanted to share as possible contemplation points this week as you work with whatever fires might be present in your life: 

  • In the heat of the moment, can you take a moment to stop and breathe?
  • As you drop in, do you notice if there is an old story or a particular narrative that is running through your mind about yourself, the other, or the situation at hand? 
  • And as you roll over the various thoughts, feelings and sensations that come up, can you allow yourself to create the space to extinguish these old narratives by simply being with what is?  

For me, my practice continues to be the place where I work to practice greater fire safety – personally and interpersonally. Imagining that your practice might serve a similar purpose, I  continue to offer a few weekly public offerings. If you are interested in hearing more about these, please send me an email and I will add you to the list.