Fire and flames have been rather central to my life.
When I was young, I kept warm at a stove just like this – it provided all heat and ability to cook. My parents scavenged for wood at local building sites and behind supermarkets, burning scrap lumber and cut up old pallet boards. I was used to fire, used to tending it. I was as used to this as most are used to flipping on a light switch. Later, when I owned my own home, 110 years old with faulty baseboards, I relearned how comforting flame is. I love campfires.
I also learned respect for fire as my house burned down when I was six – it was fall, promising a hard winter in northern Idaho, the stove pipe was too close to the cedar shake siding, and we lost everything.
Fire is warmth and destruction, energy of creation and consuming anger. As with all things, the internal flames of emotion are useful and warm when banked properly, the damper’s set just right, and you use good dry fuel.
Just like fire, the flames of emotion can be destructive or choke you out with smoke that makes it impossible to see when not tended properly, or allowed to get out of hand.
The mind, rational thought, is like that careful homeowner who sets the wood just right, keeps things managed, so you can warm your fingers and toes and boil a pot of tea. Then emotion becomes something to inform and inspire you, not something that clouds the truth of how the world really is, or makes you sensitive to every little slight so you spend your life being consumed by the fire of rage.