Apr 8, 2012

When the only way out is up

It's been a dark, cold winter you've spent curled up in the snow. You've tried to build fires before, and they're beautiful, the alluring warmth, the comforting crackle, a bold display of protection, safety. But every single time you get too close. You love this fire, such a beautiful promise in the dark and the cold. You want to surround yourself in this wall of beauty. You add more logs to feed the flames. Hungry tongues, fiery tongues, licking away the loneliness of the dark sky. More. More. You want to see nothing but the light. Expel the darkness; fiery beauty will reign.

But then you always get burnt. The fire gets too big and the heavenly wall starts to hurt you instead. You try to run from the darkness into the flames but you start screaming. You have to run back out, back into the cold dark snow. The burn marks on your forearms and shins are a reminder of the pain that always comes when you try to get too close to beauty.

Yet right now, it's all you want again. Anything to get rid of this darkness. The muted cold makes you want to scream. You've had enough of the dead night. Anything to bring life back into this forsaken field of black ice. You long for the fire again, the fire that roars with life, cheer, gold tongues of life.

It's not all that easy, though. You're alone now; your blackened fingers have become too weak to rub the stones together; you can't hold an axe anymore. All you can do is sit here, wait for someone to come by with the magic of life.

And he comes along again. Him with the tanned skin and healthy build, the wolf-like eyes and the smile that knows no fear. He comes by in the morning, sees you curled up and whimpering. He feels your icy skin, curls his strong fingers round your blackened ones. Gives you something to eat. He gives you life.

Then when you're strong enough to stand again he takes up your axe and holds your hand and you go off looking for wood. You stand back and watch as he hacks at the tree and the green giant comes falling, rustling rustling, and slowly you gather the firewood and come back out to the open field of snow. It takes all day. By nightfall you have your firewood in a pile and he's rubbing the stones together for that spark. Then a log catches fire. Then the whole lot. He sits and holds you as you watch the gold flames leap up to the sky, proclaiming the triumph of roaring life over the darkness. Gold vivacity. He is the life-bringer to this forsaken field.

The fire ignites in you, too, and you feel your own soul warming up. Now I remember what it feels like to be alive. Alive, alive, and suddenly you're flying in paradise. You scream with the flames, you leap with the dancing tongues. Your own heart bursts with sheer joy. Nothing beats this feeling, when all the joy in your heart just can't be contained and you have to scream it out, and the gold radiates out of you and shines into the world. Sheer joy. You're alive again.

You need more, you need more of this warmth, this joy this life this amazing beauty. You go nearer the arms of love. Nearer, nearer, let the fire embrace you.

And once again, you run out screaming, tears streaming out of your eyes. Suddenly it's too much again. The fire hurts you instead. You fall to the ground, the harsh cold snow. Your clothes are on fire. Isn't this what you wanted, to be surrounded by the flames? But it's only killing you now. You cry and cry as you roll on the snow to put out the flames. You take one last look at the screaming monster and run for your life. No more. No more life, no more beauty. Sometimes you feel like love was never yours to keep, like you were destined for the cold, harsh winter.

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