Sunday, February 28, 2016

How big is your fire?

"You can blow out a candle, but you can't blow out a fire. Once the flames begin to catch, the wind will blow it higher." —Peter Gabriel

Ironic, isn't it? The same substance (fire) and the same substance acting upon it (breath) and yet not only dissimilar but opposite results.

Of course there's an analogy for our lives. If our life is only a candle flame, it can be extinguished by the merest breath, or conversely, if our life is a powerful flame, that selfsame breath will fan the flame.

The Roman philosopher-king Marcus Aurelius put it this way in his Meditations:
That which rules within, when it is according to nature, is so affected with respect to the events which happen, that it always easily adapts itself to that definite material, but it moves towards its purpose, under certain conditions however; and it makes a material for itself out of that which opposes it, as fire lays hold of what falls into it, by which a small light would have been extinguished: but when the fire is strong, it soon appropriates to itself the matter which is heaped on it, and consumes it, and rises higher by means of the very material.
When the fire is makes a material for itself out of that which opposes it.

What's opposing you? Poverty? Self doubt? Low self-esteem? Sickness? Loneliness? Abuse? Bills? Sadness? Frustration? Unemployment? Slander? Failure?

How big is your fire? When things come against you, is it blown out with a breath? Or is it fanned? And if even bigger things yet come against you, a strong wind, is your fire going out or being fanned into a wildfire?

This is no Tony Robbins 'what doesn't kill me makes me stronger!' blogpost. I know by experience what it's like to have my fire blown out by the weakest breath.

But I kept re-lighting my fire.

And I found that, as time went by, those little whiffs of breath weren't blowing my fire out anymore. No, indeed, they were making it bigger. Maybe just a little at first, but the progression continued—the bigger the thing coming against me, the bigger my fire got.

Oh, your fire may get blown out for a while yet too. But take to heart the proverb:
Fall seven times; stand up eight.
And when you stand up that eighth time and trouble comes against you, your fire is going to grow. And every time thereafter.

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