Most of the time wolves avoid confrontation, but when they must enforce territory, when something or someone constantly hounds them, or corners them, they explode in their own powerful way. This happens rarely but the ability to express this anger is within their repertoire and it should be within ours too. – Clarissa Pinkola Estes
The sticks are piled high. I’m striking the flint and steel over and over; sweating with frustration. The straw I’ve been drying for weeks is dampening, like my self-esteem. I’m ready to give up. And then I remember- the real skill in fire-lighting is not producing flames but keeping them going in those initial stages.
My 28th year began with a fire and throughout this year I’ve been learning about building a steady, sustained fire. Not an over-the-top burst of flames that singes your eyelashes and melts your face, consuming everything in it’s path but a fire that you can really cook on. A worthwhile, righteous fire.
I am learning about unsustainable, disproportionate flames which blow out, wasting time and fuel. I am learning about the destruction of those fires which are lit without purpose by ruthless arsonists.
But I’m also learning about the benefits of fire; you can’toast marshmallows on a pile of sticks. We need fire for nourishment and creativity. I have learnt of the peace that fire can bring to a group of people sat round it, once the fire has established itself.
Yet before all of this, there’s a lot of work to be done. You have to breathe on the fire, give it oxygen. You have to add the right kind of fuel, at the right time, slowly. You have to learn about patience and humility, but don’t let the rain or someone else’s piss dampen your fire without a fight.
It is in this stage of learning to mark my territory in which I dwell and though I often stumble through youth and inexperience, I will persevere, even if it means getting my fingers burnt and occasionally having to live in a territory that reeks of my own piss.