HUFFPOST VIDEO
09/30/2013 03:49 pm ET

The Value Of Suffering: Author Hollye Dexter Explains 'A Fire In My Home Taught Me To Be Happy With Nothing' (VIDEO)

One tenet of Buddhism dictates that suffering is the first truth of life, and that great lessons can be learned from moments of terrible strife. Author Hollye Dexter lived through this reality when a fire destroyed her home and all of her possessions. She shared her story on HuffPost Live.

In 1994, Dexter, her husband and their 4-year-old son were sleeping when an electrical short ignited their home. "I had a feeling that night that something terrible was going to happen, so I had gotten up and I went to sleep with my 4-year-old son," Dexter explained to host Nancy Redd. "I heard my husband screaming in the middle of the night for me to get out of the house, and I jumped up and ran toward him, and I was immediately blown back by backdraft."

"I had seconds to kick the window out, grab my son and jump from a second-story window onto concrete below, realizing at the moment I was about to jump that I couldn't jump with my child because I would crush him. So I had to let go of his hands -- I get emotional every time I think about it. My husband had jumped before me from the other window and he caught my son."

"We lost everything that night. We both had home-based businesses and five pets and a life, and everything was gone -- everything," she continued. "When we were released from the hospital, the nurse told us, 'you can go home now,' and we just looked at each other. We had no clothes to change into, we had no shoes, we had no identification, we had no home. We had no jobs to go to, and our lives were a complete do-over."

Fifteen years after the tragedy, Dexter, at the encouragement of a friend, wrote about her experience in Like Wind to Wildfire. She explained that in writing her book, she realized that the fire had actually changed her life in a positive way.

"I learned that I was the luckiest person in the world, because when I was stripped of everything that I thought I was, which was my career, my clothes, my status, my social standing, my credit -- I had nothing left but the core of who I was. And I had to find out who that really was. And really, it was a tremendous gift."

"It was an incredible lesson for me that I didn't need all this stuff to be happy or to show me who I was. So now, I'm able to see what happened to me as the most defining moment in my life and the greatest gift I was ever given."

Watch the full conversation on HuffPost Live.

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