Be a Forest Fire

I wrote this a couple of months ago. It’s not perfect, but it perfectly encapsulates how I was feeling then:

You’re a campfire.

Back when you were a tiny but fierce blaze fighting for every breath to grow beyond a kindling pile, the gentle wind provided some critically needed fuel. It blew you in new directions and helped you grow into a respectable campfire: flashing too and fro with the wind while faithfully providing warmth and a comforting wilderness refuge in return. As the wind grew fierce it ceased tending to your friendly, flickering flames and instead suppressed them, keeping them low and small. What was once a sustaining breeze now fancies itself a hurricane, and it will snuff out a fire that hasn’t grown large enough, leaving behind only a circle of ash that burned out too soon. That small scorched bit of earth is invisible from the mountain top. But you know what isn’t? A mother fucking forest fire. The wind may have decided it’s at war with you, but careless and destructive gales can’t be allowed to keep your inferno at bay any longer, and you will find your own damn fuel and burn down the forest he thought was his but forgot belonged to both of you. You’ll make it yours.

So be a forest fire.

Maybe you think you don’t want to be a forest fire though, because most people hate forest fires; they prefer their fires small and contained so they can be controlled. But the woods know better. Sure, people may fear the flames, but where the destructive winds of tornadoes and hurricanes generally leave only carnage in their wake, a forest fire brings rebirth. It takes out the trash and leaves the strong standing, scarred but with more room for growth. It ignites life in tiny serotinous cones that can colonize the patches once occupied by invaders. The grandest sequoia on earth was once sprouted from a charred cone in the ash-coated remains of a smoking woodland. So don’t limit yourself to some small campfire ring. Burn the fucker down. Clean house. Leave behind only what is worth having in your forest. Fuel a new life from the seeds of a tree that wasn’t meant to survive your flames; the new tree will embrace the heat.

Yes. Be a forest fire.

Chaotic winds may be the end of less robust flames, but yours were fueled by those same winds back when they were friendly gusts. You understand them. While they’ve held you down and even reduced you to embers when they grew rageful, you never let them fully blow you out. Now is the key moment. The winds may still be raging, but they have shifted, and you have a chance to break free of the confines of your small fire ring. Don’t remain a twinkle barely visible from the pinnacles above before you’re extinguished: send out some sparks and light up the night. Be the fire on the mountain. Be the conflagration that roars with laughter as the wind whines in protest of your using it to drive your way to the treeline. Be the force that gives rise to a new, tenacious wilderness from the tiny, smoldering crucibles of the strongest in the grove.

Be a mother fucking forest fire.