On Saturday afternoon I burned a pile of branches, old newspapers, and other miscellaneous items. The smell of the ashes and leftover debris lingered in the air the next day. I had forgotten to grab an old wooden rocking chair out of the reading room which also needed to be disposed of. When I noticed it Sunday afternoon I wondered if the smoldering ash would still be hot enough to do anything. I took the chair out, broke it into several pieces and put some under the coals, which were still a faint orange, and put the rest in a pile on top. I checked it after a while and noticed the smoke had increased. About an hour later the wood was ablaze with a good flame. It didn’t take long to consume it once the fire restarted. Not too long afterward the chair was gone.
I wrote last week about the struggles I have when February rolls around. Many years have passed but the layers of hurt, anger, and uncertainty still lay buried, ready to ignite when fuel is added. What I try to do, instead of dwelling on the past, is not feed the flames. When I am aware and notice my mind drifting back to the place of pain I find a place to breathe. I close my eyes and take deep breaths. I remind myself of the truth that I cannot change the past but I can be present in the now. Does it always work? No. Does it work? Yes. Maybe one day I will be healed, maybe not, but I don’t want to give up on living today because of the difficulties of yesterday.
This morning I overheard a conversation involving someone who was either incapable, unwilling, or had never been taught how to listen. He insulted the people around him, calling them; “idiots” and made sure he was the “Alpha Dog.” As I listened to him not listening, I thought about our culture and the many voices, personalities, activists, politicians (especially politicians), talk show hosts, pod-casters, television and music stars and others, who scream, pontificate and insist vehemently that their view of themselves, others, the nation and the world is the only correct one and any who might dare disagree should be consumed with ferocity.
We live in such an inflammatory time when it seems most burn with self-righteous indignation and personally justified rage. We yell, fight, accuse, condemn and never stop to look around and see what this incendiary atmosphere is doing to everything and everyone around us. People burn with hatred and fear rushing to fight whatever threatens their way of life. One life ignites another and another and another…
As I listened to this man I wondered if it’s too late to change and what would be left when the flames of ego, greed, foolishness and closed ears, burned us up and out.