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We’re not crazy

A Camp Fire survivor on post-disaster life and a really good song

By Joe Wills 

When we lost our home in the Camp Fire, I lost the sense of being in control of my life. I should say, what I lost was my illusion that I was ever in control to begin with. It’s been painful. I’m moody; it’s hard to make any plans; I wonder, with dread sometimes, what calamity is coming next.

And yet, the loss of feeling in charge has shaken me open. I like accepting help now where it was awkward before. I don’t overthink things as much. And I seem attuned to coincidences that are more akin to strange and marvelous connections you notice when you stop putting your rational imprint on everything. It’s like when you switch from driver to passenger, how you can really pay attention to the world outside your window.

Back in January, I went to see MaMuse at a fundraiser for Camp Fire victims. Sarah and Karisha are wonderful musicians with longstanding Chico ties, and I have liked them and their music for many years. But this night it was as if their songs were tailored for me, and the other evacuees, to hear. One had the refrain, “You’re not crazy/You’re just sad/You’re not crazy/You’re just mad.” I could not believe it—how did they know exactly how I felt?

After I got home, I set up a Pandora MaMuse station on my computer. To my delight, “You’re Not Crazy,” the song from the fundraiser, played. It starts with these buoyant mandolin notes, and then Karisha sings, but I quickly hit the pause button because I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard. I looked up the lyrics online to check—in fact, the song’s first line is, “There was a fire in your home ….”

You could scan the rest of the lyrics and decide the song is not about an actual fire—it’s just a coincidence that it has this line, and that you found this song. Or you could take a step back, do a little less thinking, and accept that this song, in some lovely and not-so-crazy way, found you.

This article was published on 3.21.19 by

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