We were driving back home Monday afternoon. We were at our third Easter dinner, this one at Unity, when we first saw the smoke rising south of Biggar. As we got closer, the plumes of smoke got larger, and although the fire was miles away, at one point the gale-force winds blew the smoke across the highway. It had only started a few hours before and would take days to contain, the sheer size of it was immense.
Everything is tinder-dry here. It literally only takes a spark for a wildfire to start.
But I was surprised to read this week that there are places where fire can remain hidden underground, even over winter, and then make its way up to the surface again. If there is a lot of deep organic material, and little spaces in it for oxygen, the fire can smoulder there for years. And our winter snow? That’s just insulation, not a deterrent.
So you don’t know IF it’s going to pop up, and if it does, you have no idea where it might be. Good luck with that one.
I had a recurring nightmarish fear of fire as a kid. Okay, even into adulthood. Enough so that I have a collapsible emergency ladder in our bedroom closet, in case we ever have to flee a fire from the second story of our house. Which is likely never going to happen, but tell that to the irrational part of my brain that can visualize it all happening. In great detail. (Which reminds me to check the batteries in our smoke detectors later…)
But why think so much about it now? Well, because for whatever reason, my mind also loves to make connections. Continually. I’m sure that 80% of my writing in this blog is just me making analogies lol. This is no different.
Fire makes me think of hope.
I haven’t had time to make my way through any more of Dr. Roset’s dissertation on hope, so I haven’t been thinking about that. And I’m not thinking about people in the news, hoping that a wildfire spares their house or farm.
No, I’m thinking about people who have been losing hope. Who don’t see it in their work. Who doubt its power. Or who just look at the events of the world and feel really helpless.
I feel that too. Maybe that’s all someone else needs to hear. Despite whatever positivity I try to muster, there are times when I don’t see the hope in a situation. I don’t think that there is anyone out there that hasn’t felt it. I do things to mitigate and manage that feeling (like muting Trump tweets for a bit…it works!) but like fire, it can be stubborn to put out.
But I prefer to think of the fire not as hopelessness, but as hope.
There are times that I am overflowing with it. Burning up with it. I can see it everywhere. I take inspiration from everyone. And that hope fuels itself. One hopeful and positive act turns into another one. I am on fire with the belief that everything is possible and in turn burn brighter because I know that I am bringing hope to someone somewhere. A contagion. Wildfire. Spreading.
And for the times that hope can feel so, so far away, where isolation and frustrations take their toll, I imagine that hope is still under there burning. It never stops. It just is looking for a way to get back to the surface again.
But unlike fire, it doesn’t have to be unexpected. We can make a path for it:
Visiting a friend.
Talking to a colleague.
My go-to line with kids, “what’s up?”
Take that break. Yah that means I’m putting down my phone. For a bit.
Lots of breathing.
Going for a run, even if you think running is stupid.
Smile. Without teeth if it feels like a grimace. Or a thumbs up to someone will suffice.
Step back, figuratively or literally. Use the 24 hour minor hockey rule.
Gain some perspective. As I’ve often heard, things will look better in the morning.
Find that one positive.
Tell someone what you appreciate about them.
More breathing when they don’t reciprocate. Patience. They may spread that fire to someone else who needs it too.
Remember we are all in this together, no matter how politicians or media soundbites might make us feel alone, or divided.
As we come back from break, hopefully re-energized and rested, remember that when you need hope, be open and let someone else spread their fire to you. When you feel the fire, be the spark to help someone else.
“Just like an old friend, reach out to me.
Bathe me in the light of understanding.
And try to help me to share the trouble
that you've got burnin' in you,
then you can help me.
And in our time together, her memory will ever
Shine like golden embers in the night.”
Golden Embers by Mandolin Orange
Perpetual amateur. Lifelong learner. Vice-Principal. Teacher. Musician. Mom. Annnnd if you're reading this, then I'm still a blogger.