All of my life, I have loved tending to fires.
When I was a little boy, one of my grandparents owned a small cabin a couple hours drive from my hometown. In this cabin, there was a wood burning fireplace.
When I was around the age of six, my dad taught me how to set up a proper fire, and I was immediately hooked.
In the years that followed, whenever my family went to the cabin, I would commandeer the fire.
Tightly crumple a few pages of decades-old newspaper. Set the kindling on top in a criss-cross pattern. Place three large logs on top, with room to breathe. Light the match, set fire to the newspaper underneath, and blow on the emerging flames until the sparks from the kindling threatened to jump out on to my face.
I would sit and tend to the fire for hours.
Re-position this. Add that. Make room for air there.
This was my meditation.
It was both calm, slow, and grounding… while at the same time it demanded my presence and attention.
Watching the flames dance with each other and lick the rough edges of the logs was all the entertainment I needed.
I wasn’t interested in playing Scrabble or watching TV or swimming in the ocean. I just wanted to have the image of the flames burn themselves into my retinas. The heat to enter my lungs. The smoke to permeate my clothes.
Tending to the fire taught me several important lessons that I would come to appreciate with time.
Simply sitting and observing the dance of life is enough.
While the ego loves setting and achieving goals, the soul loves presence and spaciousness. When I would sit and watch the fire, nothing else mattered. There I was. Doing all that I needed to. Just… being.
Give your energy.
The fire demanded my presence of attention. Both because of it’s beauty, and because of its need for maintenance.
If the fire left my awareness for too long the largest log could burn in a lop sided way… or the fire could die out altogether.
My task was to primarily enjoy the dance, but also extend my energy when it called for a helping hand.
Every moment is both creation and destruction.
As the logs burn, heat and light are created.
As the fire roars, connection is cultivated. Internally, and with those that share the fire.
Every moment contains both elements of creation and destruction.
Even in your most potent, pure, creative moments, mother nature is still eating away at your flesh, time marching ever onwards.
There is no escaping this reality. So the only thing there is left to do is to dance. Live fully. Watch the fire burn, give your gifts, and die with a full heart and empty mind.
If there’s a heaven, I know that my iteration of it will have an area where I can chop wood, tend to a fire, and have it’s generous glow heat my face for hours on end.