On April 25, 2015, the apartment that my wife and I were living in burned down. It was the scariest night of our lives. Two minutes after we heard banging on our neighbors door, we were standing outside watching our home and everything in it burn down to ashes.
I'm tearing up just writing this.
To explain a bit of what happened...
We woke up at 3:35am when we heard loud knocking on a neighbor's door. We originally thought it was just a loud party. But when we heard the knocking again accompanied by really anxious yelling, we jumped out of bed to take a look at what was going on.
My wife saw smoke out the window.
Rachel: OH MY GOD! There's a fire! What do we do?!
Me: What's most important?
Rachel: Well, our bags are packed. (We were leaving for a trip to London the same day)
Me: Grab the bags. And hurry!
So we threw clothes on and grabbed Willoughby (our dog), the bags, and I grabbed a hard drive, and two laptops. We saw smoke outside, but we thought the field was on fire (not our apt). When I opened the door and stepped outside, I saw a wall of fire 10 ft from me coming onto our deck.
RACHEL, WE ARE LEAVING NOW!!!!!
We had our arms full as we ran down the outdoor hallway, through the smoke, away from the fire.
I banged on our neighbors door shouting FIRE GET OUT! They ran out confused and angry, but they made it out alive.
60 seconds after we ran out of our door our entire apartment was engulfed in flames.
I happened to have my car key and jumped in to move it away from the apt. And I had a spare key for Rachel's car in my car so we were fortunate to be able to save our vehicles. Five vehicles got destroyed that morning.
It all happened unbelievably fast.
All people made it out safely. A few pets didn't.
We took the trip at the encouragement of our families. It ended up being a wonderful trip and we got to see two of Rachel's sisters and our brother-in-law.
We are back from the trip and have settled into a new apartment that is fully furnished :) Life seems to be settling down a bit now.
Through this experience I have learned some valuable things.
- We are loved. There are a LOT of people that reached out to us, donated clothes, kitchen items, art, etc., made us food, sent us money, set up gofundme's, wrote us letters, called us, prayed for us. We have been overwhelmed with love. And when I say love, I mean some real solid love in action.
- One of the biggest thing I have learned is that...
Your attitude is the only thing you can control.
We have maintained an incredibly positive attitude. This wasn't because of the circumstance leant very well to being positive. But we knew that we had a choice. We had two directions we could go. We could be devastated, bitter, and angry, or we could forgive, start fresh, and be super pumped to be alive!!
My friend, Terence Tang, sent me an art piece he made.
This is right on point. Circumstances are so often out of our control, but we chose how we react.
And another friend, Eric Freidensohn, who also experienced a similar apartment fire last year, sent me this card and badge. It was a design sketch that survived his fire and frame an attitude that helped him get through a lot of tough times.
I whole heartedly believe that Viktor Frankl was bringing some serious truth when he said the following:
The last of human freedoms - the ability to chose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances.
Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
Everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedom -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
There have been so many people that have reached out and helped us in tremendous ways. We can't thank you enough.
A short list of the many people who have made a huge impact on us during this difficult time: Bethany Hart, Cory Miller, the entire seanwes community, IndieWhip, Wistia, Kristen Pickeral, our families, Jon Acuff (and many of his sweet fans), the mograph community (esp. MoGraph Mentor and School of Motion), ECRS, and many, many more! We will forever be so insanely grateful.
P.S. This is not exactly a typical post. I took some time off from writing posts after the fire, but I am back on schedule. You can continue to expect Monday morning mograph posts :)