Stories around the fire

There’s a flame, a fire, in the corner of our eye. 

It comes in and out of view.

We want to look. We want to fuel it. We yearn for its primal energy – for what it can do for us, and what we can do with it.

If we move closer to the flame, our fight or flight response eventually kicks in. 

It’s too bright, too hot, too wild, too dangerous.

So we shy away.  

Yet we don’t extinguish it. We keep it there, in the corner of our view. 

It gives us comfort to imagine the warmth and security it provides; we feel excitement at its light and colour cutting a path through the darkness; and exhilaration at its heat and energy providing fuel for others. 

But we’re not really there with the flame. 

We’re just imagining it.

Sometimes this is enough for us, but it’s more likely the flame in the corner will drive us to distraction; allow us to tell a convenient yet mythical story to ourselves about why were right to shy away; or just fizzle out from deprivation of fuel, heat, and air. 

If we take a few moments longer to stay near the flame, we may notice it’s not an untameable fire after all. 

It’s a torch. 

It still feels risky to gingerly reach out and grasp it, but grasp it we must. And once we grasp it, something happens. We may never carry the torch all the ways to new lands, unexplored terrain, or the top of the mountain, but once we take a hold of it something shifts.

What’s really worth noting here is when we’re old and grey, perhaps what will frustrate us most is not that we didn’t reach out and grab the torch: it may be that we convinced ourselves we had done so, when in fact we’d just imagined it all along.

Perhaps that’s why we love stories around the fire.

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