It’s a little past 7, my dim flame of a soul awake compelled to compare that light to years ago waking up at 4 to write, running at 5:30, smoothies at 7:30, meetings and clients all day. Yet, somehow, sleeping 8 hours mostly through the night and waking up before 11 has become my biggest accomplishment of summer. It reveals how I’ve mistaken my schedule as me, my work as me, my good deeds as me. Yesterday, the Mullen fire west of town turned the sky orange by noon and time became like resin holding everything captive and intact in town while beetle kill and brush woosh in flames out of town. Some have become sentimental about the fires claiming environmentalists created the perfect kindling by not logging etc. I am of the mind that it had to burn sometime. The forest must burn to create. Perhaps the soul does, too.
Forest fires release seeds and encourage growth creating fertile soil. The flames clear dead trees, leaves, and other vegetation from the forest floor so new plants can grow. Nutrients are broken down and return to the soil while disease-stricken trees leave space for stronger trees. The thinning of trees increases sunlight which increases growth both of trees and wildlife habitat. Soul fire releases new ideas of how to cope with life when old ways aren’t working. The destruction of self and old patterns creates space for new wiring of the brain, synapses finding new paths with no former brain crispy leaves in the path. Relationships are broken down to create room for new relationships and meaning. While the smoke of the soul may be dark and ominous during the fire, the sunlight comes back in through new venues, new ways of seeing, new hope.
I find myself 6 hours into a 10 hour audio book wondering if I would have read it quicker through seeing instead of listening. Then I remember, my sight isn’t getting better. I’m getting older. My body is changing and I find it sometimes hard to get out of the bathtub with shame thinking back on 6 hours of exercise a day. Its hard to compare the two, both extremes of activity and while I feel like a crust of myself I have learned the lesson of moderation and realistic expectations. This does not preclude goals of yoga, running, lifting weights, healthy diet. This fire, however, is only 11% contained and the main objective is to save the structures of my life that are important. A job, housing, working on the relationships I do have. I’m setting the control line and holding boundaries and sometimes the fire may jump these lines. Start over. Dig, water, clear the brush again.
I wonder if this latest existential crisis has less to do with simple mental ailments and more to do with the shifting of my soul to accommodate who I am. Am I a gypsy wandering every mountain town I encounter only to find while I’m compatible with the mountains I’m not compatible with its friends? Or am I professional who realizes no one wants a former gypsy in shiny cubicles in surface talks about politics of service that are held up only in theory? I seem to be emerging as both and I cherish my experiences in a boat, on a mountain, in a cubicle, speaking in front of a classroom. In talks with my Uncle I realize that its not the achievements or the acquisition of a new position—its finding peace in the slow burning of the fire knowing that the terrain is too tough for me to fight and does not make sense for containment. I wait then, and watch, and prepare the boundaries that I can knowing the fire may shift in any direction on the dovetails of the changing wind.
I am told by some mentors to keep certain information off of my resume and others tell me to hold true to myself. As I drive by Fox park and some areas in the San Juans its obvious the forest has burned. I wonder if my own fire leaves the scars just as visible and suppose it may be foolish to think I can hide the fires that molded the projection of myself. I am told to keep a plant for a year, a dog for a year, then try a relationship. The rebel in me says I’ll do things in anyway I want, I’ll start a fire in a stage 3 ban and watch my resources wasted on another preventable course. I’ve been hiding very well this summer only letting a few folks know my whereabouts as I flit around from the San Isabel forest, to Holy Cross, and Medicine Bow, to end up at Roosevelt and Arapaho. If I name where I am going maybe I can tame the outcome. I dream of yoga in the morning, running in the afternoon, weights at night then swaddled in the tiny belly of my studio apartment to read, write, and reflect.
Fall has always been my favorite time and is now the time of fires. I anticipate the neon red sun in fall and the soft blanketing of snow that puts the fires out. Snow is an insulator and when sound hit the small pockets of air on the outer surface the sound is absorbed reducing volume and reverberation. All becomes a bit more quiet, the tongue of the flames finally put to rest with steam rising from the forest floor as the cycle begins again. Cycle meaning circle—perhaps I circle in and out of the “good” and “bad” times in my life to learn something new each time I’m on fire. This cycle I learned that I am a flake. I set my lines and I hop them. I create a strategy and the fire changes. I’m not sure if I set goals around this tendency or I take the process as the goal itself—saying no one day at a time. Apologizing or forgiving one situation in its own way despite the time it may take. The fires are still burning and I’m still using all I’ve got to put them out, until they come again.
“What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.”