I came across these great words from Dawna Markova:
I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
Let me explain why they caught my eye. I’ve spent a lot of years not being fully alive. There are many reasons for that, and one of them sprung to mind when I read this poem. Some years ago I had the unfortunate, and very traumatic experience of seeing another person catch fire, and I was unable to stop it happening or even to help. I’m not going to go into the details because it would be traumatic for me, and maybe for you too, but I read:
“I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire”
You might be able to imagine that after an experience like that, everything about catching fire would catch my attention. It did. Any words about fire tend to do that for me, although I can say that at this stage it’s not the traumatic re-living of the event anymore. Otherwise I wouldn’t be writing about it now.
What strikes me is that back when that happened, it affected all of my senses. My sight, smell and hearing all caught their own record of it. What’s more, I could taste the burning in my mouth and I could feel the soot on my clothes. I guess that’s what you could call experiencing it fully, and as a result it was very hard to get away from. Not only were all my senses affected that day but also my heart. The person involved wasn’t someone I knew personally, but a little of the pain they experienced had to touch those who had to watch helplessly. How could it not?
I have lived since then afraid of catching fire, or seeing the experience repeated. I don’t even use candles anymore, even though I consider myself to have largely recovered from the experience. Candles also aren’t such a good idea when you’re living with earthquakes, so again my fear of fire is stashed away with the candles, and I can tell myself that it is ‘sensible’.
I suspect that to some extent I will always be a little fearful of fire, but the thing is that when I start to guard my life from one danger, then it is easy to start building protective barriers around myself from other dangers. I don’t want my senses to be invaded in such a way that they were. And I don’t want my heart to be hurt like it was that day too.
That occasion was thankfully the only time I have had to deal with such an event but my heart has been being hurt, and burnt over and over again across the years. I’m no different from anyone else, and I’m sure most people have had their hearts burnt at times. It’s just that when it happens repeatedly then you gradually shut down from the world, and that’s what I did. I shut down so that no one could get near my heart.
It seemed like the sensible thing to do at the time, but I’m realising that when I shut down my heart then I shut down my life and how it is experienced by all of my senses. I don’t want to die having lived only half my life, and so I’ve come to the conclusion that I have to take a few risks in order to bear the fruit.
I’m not about to light candles because our earthquakes continue (although admittedly they are lessening in their frequency). A damaged house is one thing but a burnt out house would leave me homeless.
But I can consider my risks, and take a few. I want to fly. In any situation that we face there are risks. I’m not blind to that but I think now I’m at a point where I can jump. If I don’t fly, then I know there will be people around me now to make sure I have a smooth landing. I’m still going to be careful. I don’t want my heart burned unnecessarily. And when those earthquakes have stopped, I’ll be pulling out the candles again. It’s time to move on and not be paralysed any longer by my fear of fire. Fire can be a good thing too, and I intend to experience that.
“We are young, but We already know that in life’s great game those who are
most unhappy are those who haven’t taken the risk to be happy.
And I don’t want to be one of those”
― Guillaume Musso, Que serais-je sans toi?