“Ivory tower’s bound to fail/Voices whisper in the wind/I can hear them calling”
Season in Hell (Fire Suite) – Suzanna Leigh Culpepper
The cold wracking my body was deep, cutting through me, making my bones ache. I stretched out the ring finger of my left hand to the flame. Closer and closer I got as the heat slowly spread down my body, warming the life-force which in turn coursed through my veins doing its part to warm the rest of me.
It wasn’t enough, I wanted more, and I wanted it right that minute. I kept reaching out until the warmth turned to pain as the fire set on a destructive path, blistering my hand. I yanked back, pulling my damaged limb tight to my chest, a pained look spreading across my face. The cold returned as I took a few steps back.
Fire is such an amazing force: walk by a fireplace and you’re drawn in; there’s nothing more comforting then a campfire at night. We all want warmth.
I contemplated the fire as I sat there tending my wound. I couldn’t tell which was worse – the blisters surfacing on my hand or the cold rapidly returning to my body. I looked at the fire and I couldn’t help it – I wanted to feel the warmth again. I want it so bad, so desperately I’m willing to be burned again and again and again for time eternal. To be consumed by something so much more powerful then any “I” or “me.”
I have some level of control, whether I jump in and burn or stay to the side, play it safe. But once the decision is made, you might as well carve it in stone.
Fires go out. You can start another, but it’s never exactly right, it’s never the same fire that held you in rapture under its mystical spell.
Consumed. Even water won’t stop certain fires, and the ragers, those all-hands-on-deck fires that take everything and everyone, can go on for days. There’s a mine in Pennsylvania on fire right this very second – I heard someone say it will burn for at least a thousand years.
There is no middle road here. Fire is one of those things you have to commit to, either you’re on the side or you’re all-in. I want to be all-in. I want to have my entire body wrapped up in those gorgeous colors. To feel the spiraling flames turning me into something else –something different, something new – like a phoenix reborn.
I look around at my fellow travelers sitting around that fire. You can see where they’re going with this. It’s so much easier to see when you’re on the outside looking in. Some have the same outstretched hand; the terror at what’s about to happen is obvious and yet they’re pushing forward, some faster than others but they’re getting there all the same.
And then there are those you see backing away from the heat. Their fear is just as noticeable, just as palpable, but they’ve let it control them, dominate them, own them. They will forever be cold.
I want to scream. I want to fall down on my knees and weep for everything I know those who’ve backed away from the fire are going to lose. I want to mourn the dreams that will slowly fade to bitterness and resentment when they’re sitting there in the retirement home with no fire to keep them warm.
Pain is temporary. That’s the point of this life: to be consumed, to become something more than what you are. To lose control, to give warmth, to be warmth, to not let your fears take control and force you into a life that you never dreamed when you were a child you would be living.
We’ve all been burned before, some deeper than others, but it’s all relative. Wounds heal. The more damaging wounds? We learn to live with them, to get around with them. They mark us, they make us the person who looks back at us in the mirror every day. And either you steel yourself to that reflection or you look away. Either you’re cold or you’re warm.
Love is fire. Hey you, got a match? I’ve got some gasoline.