On July l, a little before 2 a.m., I was still scribbling in bed and declaring to the universe in no uncertain terms that I was ready to move to my new home (wherever that may be); when I heard what sounded like a car bomb go off in my driveway. I got up, looked out my kitchen window and saw the house two doors down burst into a ball of flames.
Living in L.A., we’re not unfamiliar with fires, smoke and smoke but this was like nothing I had ever seen except on the news in some other person'sstory.
We were now banging on doors, waking people up. People were screaming and running from the power line.
The house two doors down burned quickly to the ground. The house beside it went up next before the fire leapt around the corner and jumped back over bushes into our backyard.
A fleet of firetrucks packed our small street, (God Bless our fire heroes, truly). A local news truck was struggling to get an interview from a street full of neighbors holding their cell phones high all videoing the same shot of a fire and reporting the story directly to their followers as they saw it.
A story I fearfully told myself I couldn't repeat as I stood there in my Homer Simpson slippers, was that I had told the Universe I was ready to move now. But I didn’t mean right now! Yes, words andI are more powerful than I want to admit. We all are. But don’t be afraid that will make you Carrie at The Prom.
For the next week and counting 600 surrounding homes were affected, utilities burned, our street being torn up, one house and parts of others being torn down and plenty of gratitude that nobody died. It's been non top noise, investigators, firecrackers, trucks and semis unloading thousands of pounds of Astroturf onto the high school football field across the street. (You can’t make this stuff up.) It was a hot mess.
Until suddenly I saw something that changed everything for me.
In the duplex next door, two sisters, the older who can't be more than 7, were setting a folding table out on the sidewalk. On the table was a single pitcher and a stack of cups.
“Lemonade!” the big sister called out.
Nobody could hear or seemed to notice her. But she wasn’t letting up.
"Only a dollar a glass!"
I was enchanted. I walked over as a phone repair man arrived. I offered to buy cups for all the working crew. He thanked me but he had just bought for those guys so he bought me one and I bought two for the next person who might walk up who then passed on one on to the next.
We were paying it forward in lemonade. And the girls were cleaning up.
This is the story I personally will take away from the fire. Two little girls who saw what was immediately needed and provided it like no one else possibly could. Not with heavy equipment but Dixie cups. Simple genius.
Yes, the story wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t first for the excitement of the fire that started it.
I hear businesses and authors strugglesto tell what they hope will be their most exciting stories and offers to attract clients. And it’s understandable. But an excitement is just a beginning.
The most powerful brand and book stories tell stories that matter and keep the sparks going after the fire has gone out.
Do you need some help with yours?
Please let me hear from you.
And thank you for reading and sharing.