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.
via Daily Prompt: Flames
As I go about my daily life, I constantly hear people talking about their feelings. Only, they are doing this when they are making decisions that ought to be made with their minds, not their feelings.
“I feel this would be the right job to take.” “I feel this is a good deal.” “I feel this scientist has made a mistake.”
Sure, it could be brushed off as a figure of speech. But what we say betrays how we think. If we really were talking about thinking, we wouldn’t say “feel” all the time, would we?
Not only that, but I see that the result of people listening to their feelings instead of their logic is a whole host of problems, not limited to abusive behavior, mental unstability, belief based science, and the desire to control what everyone else does instead of controlling oneself. It can even lead to financial ruin for everyone from families on up to nations.
I am certainly not exempt. This is something I struggle with on a daily basis.
I have nothing against feelings. I just think that they need to be listened to only when they are appropriate. Just as you wouldn’t necessarily think and analyze why a kitten is so cute when she’s purring and enjoying her fuzzy mouse toy, you shouldn’t just feel when it’s time to decide what mix of proteins and vitamins to feed her for optimal health. Yet people do that all the time when they look at the cute picture on the bag instead of reading the ingredients list.
Which one would you choose? Would you choose to be storm-tossed, at the mercy of your feelings, and making decisions based on what feels good? Or would you choose to be informed by your emotions, but ultimately have reason at the tiller?