My good friend Mike says, “tending your fire is like tending yourself”. I think he’s right. A glowing bed of coals is the heart of the fire. It is where the heat comes from but those coals have to be fed or they go out. As I’ve been reflecting on the solo fires from this past weekend and the brave women who went out into the forest to take the journey into the night I’ve been thinking a lot about why the solo fire is such an important part of my life and why like Sit Spot I want to share it with others. Tending a fire is sometimes work and almost always worth it to me. We need it both for survival and as a great teacher of presence. The more I practice tending the fire and spending time with it the more I get out of it. (Very much like sit spot.) The harder I work at tending my fire well the fewer toxic thoughts run through my mind. The more I watch it the better I understand how to feed it. A near perfect metaphor for living. Staying up all night with a fire in this way for the first time reaches into the depths of determination we each carry with us. We have to keep it alive. We have to keep ourselves alive by feeding it, watching it, tending it. Sometimes we doze off, sometimes we put on wood that's too rotten and it creates a lot of smoke. Sometimes, you have to feed it constantly to keep it alive and sometimes it goes out. No matter what the night comes. With a Solo Fire you walk the edge of light and learn about life. This is why we do the Solo Fire.
The world is but a canvas to our imagination.
~ Henry David Thoreau
Tomorrow evening there will be five AMAZING women scattered along this quietly babbling creek with only them and a fire all night in the middle of no where. The moon is new, the leaves are raining to the ground opening the canopy for the stars. They will hear the birds welcome the sun and watch it rise into a blue sky. They will find out a little more about themselves, what they are capable of, and they will find out a whole lot about tending a fire.
I met this swallowtail caterpillar while pulling weeds in garden plot at a school I am working at in Atlanta. Thankfully, he was willing to travel with me upstairs to the classroom where he met many young humans who were gentle, inquisitive, and excited to meet such a fine specimen of his species. When Forest Friday was over and he and I were packing up to leave he gave the kids one last surprise.. he pooped on me. Funny thing, people generally don’t think of insects pooping, but considering all the leaves caterpillars eat it wasn’t surprising at all for me.. after they were completely grossed out my friend the swallowtail caterpillar and I went back to the garden where I found him and there I left him to hopefully eat some more, poop some more, and one day soon become a beautiful butterfly.
Our greatest experiences are our quiet moments.