Building a fire
When I was young, we had a pot belly stove. I loved being responsible for building a fire in it. Usually we used newspaper and pinecones to build a big pile of flammable material and then light the whole thing up. The fire would burn for a few minutes and quickly extinguish all the fuel. And then I would spend ages blowing at it, re-building it, and eventually small embers would form and a fire would slowly start. The best thing about these fires was that I learnt that the really hot coals at the bottom were excellent for cooking my creations. I made horses out of clay that we collected from the hills nearby and baked them in the stove. The slower they baked, the less likely they were to break.
So let’s talk about love.
Love in the past has been a brazen fire, an assault on the senses, a passionate affair that dealt me a blow, and a fire would burn in a big roar of fuel and intense heat. And more often than not, the fuel would burn out. Or the things that were put in that fire would break, because it was too hot.
When I first met my newborn babies, I didn’t love them like that. I remember thinking that loving Phoebe might diminish my love for my then partner. And when Amy was born, that loving her would in turn diminish my love for Phoebe. And yet, I was so wrong. My love for my children was a slow love that grew daily. It was like a fire that you add small amounts of fuel to every day, and it slowly builds to a large blaze that has interminable amounts of fuel and replenishes from a place of abundance that I cannot explain.
I am much older now, I have experienced love of all kinds.
Love for my animals, love for my friends, love for my fellow humans. And, ye gods, romantic love has happened to me again. This time, it has been a slow burn between equals. A fire that started with a small spark that has steadily grown. A small fire that allows individual growth and allows things to be placed in it to mature without breaking. A fire that I hope will burn with greater intensity every day. A fire that requires tending to, adding to, some oxygen sometimes to allow breathing space; and wood added to it to build embers.
A fire like this has millions of possibilities, it is not limited by the size of the container it is placed in, nor the amount of fuel you have, because it is independent of all of that. I want to learn how to care for this fire. I want to learn how to build it. It is a good fire.
So, because I trust it, I am placing a lump of clay in this fire, an investment. I am risking that it may break. But I hope it will not, as this fire is a slow, patient fire. A fire that will hopefully endure. It has taken a long time for this lesson to sink in, but I am glad it has.