In my brothers back yard, about 50 feet from the porch there is a small fire pit constructed out of two dozen or so small bricks. The other night, my brother and I decided to get a bon-fire started. We grabbed some dry leaves and bark that laid around to create a small flame and added firewood from a pile that had been assembled in the corder of the yard to grow and sustain the fire’s heat. As the flame grew, so did my attentiveness to be cautious of the danger that awaited in getting to close, trying to find that perfect distance. This place where you are not too far from the fire – embraced by the bitter cold of the night, but you are not too close as to be engulfed by the burning heat. As we sat there and talked, looking at the fire with a slight amazement, I realized constructing that fire – and finding the perfect distance to enjoy its rewards is a bit like constructing an authentic life and finding the sweet spot for living our truths.
There are a lot of decisions that we make in this life that we believe are setting us up to be protected. We strive to attain an equitable education. We seek a compatible partner. We aspire to live in a quality neighborhood. These pursuits are important in life. In laying these bricks, we are intentional about building the spaces in our lives – the capacity – to set the fire.
The twigs and bark
What we choose to study in school, whether it be english, or engineering. Whether we go to an automotive technical school, or aspire to become a licensed barber, these aspects of our lives are important for provoking the heat – and the spaces – to grow a fire.
As we grow though life – and experience its moments – we decide what we stand for. Based on what we have collected throughout our lives. We decide our values, our virtues, and form our moral compass. For some, we seek our mission-centered life, in which the canvas for our life’s work demonstrates our unwavering commitment to our most sincere quests. These things in life grow a burning, blazing fire.
The heat then becomes what we have the opportunity to feel, based on our life’s choices – should we so choose. Whether good or bad, we have grown, made decisions, experienced outcomes. We have set our lives on fire. We can see the fire, glowing in front of us. It can seem a bit frightening, and hold uncertainty. Truthfully, we can’t even quite figure out how it grew to be so large. After all, it used to be just a smokey leaf waiting to catch on fire.
The cold is our fear of living through our life experiences. Often so, we would rather stand back away from the fire. Though we might not catch the warmth of a flame on a cold night, we would prefer to avoid the likelihood to be burnt by those crisp flames. For far too many of us, the safety that exists by standing in the cold is a fair exchange for avoiding the potential travesty that awaits amidst the blazing inferno.
Finding the perfect distance.
Spoiler alert- there is no perfect distance. It is a beautiful dance between the heat and the cold. In learning to lean into your life. Into the life that you have manifested – engaging in the experiences to be felt, the commitments to be made and the lessons to be learned. And equally so, in learning to step back – to process. To reflect on how your life’s fire has grown. To accept and take ownership of the moments that have created your life. There is risk in staying in either place for too long but risk is the only way forward – and the only way to perfect the dance.
There is a stream of consistently that exists across our lives no matter the road we travel, no matter the journey we embark upon- It is the evolution of ourselves. It is you, your narrative – your reason – that exists consistently. Embrace the journey that has created your life. Knowing you own story – and the immense obstacles you have overcome – solidifies a mission-centered direction for your life. In the direction that you – and only you – must walk. To be free, to feel certain, to live authentically.