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A Powerful and Positive Insight from a Campfire

Fireside, we watch wood burn down—but we also witness it bursting open to reveal the beauty within.

Campfire inspiration
Credit: Getty Images

I love a campfire, and not just because I love s’mores (though I certainly do). The effort it takes to start a fire at a campsite or in a fire pit, the careful building required, the patience needed to let the fire ignite and brighten…and then the multi-sensory experience of feeling its warmth, hearing its crackles and seeing its sparkles—all of those things just fill me with joy.

Recently, sitting quietly around a fire pit with my family, I experienced another powerful, positive message we can glean from an outdoor fire

We had hefted a large log onto the hot center of the fire and marveled at how the tall flames licked upward as it caught and started to burn. Soon enough, the consumptive process of the fire began. The log began to appear more narrow, as flames picked and teased away its once-pulpy heft. Ridges appeared along its length and across its circumference, deepening and crackling as the fire continued to consume it.

I felt a reflective mood bubble up. I suddenly felt sad for the log, like I was watching a fast-motion version of the inevitable loss of substance that happens to all living things. I thought about recent losses in my life, including the death of my father 10 months ago. And the radical changes in routine and comfort level that have come with the coronavirus pandemic. Watching the log shrink and crackle, I felt drained. Used up.

But then, almost in response to these thoughts, the log softly and suddenly popped apart, its ridges deepening so much that its charred surface broke into individual cubes. At the base of the fire pit, the log almost sighed as it opened into a new shape and form. I drew in a sharp breath as I noticed that in cracking open in this way, the log had revealed a glowing, almost molten core. It was a glorious sight—powerfully hot, stunningly bright. 

I realized that the fire had a profound and beautiful message for me in that moment. That one single log encapsulated the essence of authentic positivity—the recognition and acceptance of what is lost in life, but also the ability and insight to revel in the profound beauty of what is revealed when we crack open. 

I went to sleep that night still feeling the glow of the campfire, refreshed by the image of sighing into a new form, becoming something that invites us to gather together and bask in our own warmth.

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