an old story
This morning, I woke up at went outside. This is not an usual thing. The sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon. The air was soft like the promise of a kiss. There’s something very pure about the light on morning like this one. It is all earnestness and gold, a reflecting hope.
But the odd thing was the smell in the air. A distinct smell, one of fire – like the first whiff of someone’s burning fireplace on the first cold day of fall. Only, it isn’t fall. Only, no one was burning a fire. Only, there was no sign of fire at all. The sky was a pure, pale blue – the lightest shade of Caribbean.
There was no smoke, only a smell. It made me wonder, nearly out loud, about the things we cannot see – but that we still know to be true. The evidence of feeling and possibilities left to, and on, the wind. It is a kind of faith, I suppose. A belief in what cannot be seen, measured, or otherwise quantified.
Hope is like that. Hope is the smell of fire on the wind, on a day where it should not be possible. There’s the old adage, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” I’d take that a step sideways: where there’s the smell of fire, there’s potential. Not just in the ways that burn, not in the ways we twist up inside ourselves. A real, true hope.
The reality is that change sometimes comes in the form of burnt bridged, an engulfing blazing, and complete destruction. Sometimes, this is necessary. You cannot move forward as you are, as things are, and so you must light a match – and let the bad things burn. Sometimes, the only way to truly get away is to leave nothing behind.
And yet, there are instances where the fire is a subtler sort, a slow and steady hearth. A thing the signifies home. A light, a thing of welcoming that promises love and shelter. Fire isn’t inherently good or bad. It destroys in the hands of malice. It gives warmth and sanctity in the hands of someone who loves.
The slow, steady burn. The building and nurturing of a fire. To me, that is the lesson here. It isn’t one of beginnings, but of tending that which is already there. You can walk away from a campfire, and return to find the ashes still hot. Tended right, a fire never dies. And that is often the key to so many things: tend to things with skill and patience. Offer whatever you can. Nurture instead of destroy. Love and wait.
Patience brings many things. And, darlings, fire is often one of them. You cannot rush it or will it to be. But you can care for it just the same.
“I am a few years older now and I know this: There are tastes of mouths I could not have lived without; there are times I’ve pretended it was just about the sex because I couldn’t stand the way my heart was about to burst with happiness and awe and I couldn’t be that vulnerable, not again, not with this one. That waiting to have someone’s stolen seconds can burn you alive. That the shittiest thing you can do in the world is lie to someone you love; also that there are certain times you have no other choice – not honoring this fascination, this car crash of desire, is also a lie. [cliché]That there is power in having someone risk everything for you. That there is nothing more frightening than being willing to take this freefall. That it is not as simple as we were always promised.” ~Daphne Gottlieb, Homewrecker