January 2021
ONCE – on Fire
NOW – a Flame

In youth and throughout a career, to be a-fire – passionate, industrious, dedicated – is enviable and encouraged. It feels righteous, virtuous and enlivening to be burning with a purpose, a position, to be wanted and needed.

The Inviolate Niche of Inner Peace, courtesy Carla Woody. carlawoodyart.com

With an innocence – consorting with naiveté – we stride forward into the workplace, fakin’ it till we make it. We look to make a mark, throw money into savings and IRAs for a well planned future retirement, and feel we have attained maturity.

Myth projects epic status on heroic characters and their exploits – great battles waged, monarchies toppled, misdeeds avenged, women conquered. Noble conquests all, with an ‘end-justifies-the-means’ ethos, heralded by braggadocio that longs for an enduring legacy. So we are in good company, putting our best foot forward, latte in hand, to engage society and add our own creative energy and unique character. Tribal comparisons still hold true, because who, if banished, can survive the elements – or the marketplace? Some compromise of sovereignty must thus occur, as the whole must benefit. The cycle is solid, operational, universal.

Yet, as we age, a tidal shift takes place, our impulsive responses damped by a discerning caution – a desire for ‘least effort.’ No longer run by emotion or errant thoughts, we steer attention to our surroundings and engage an actively passive stance, a little less ruffled by the shenanigans swirling about.

It has been said: “You have a circle of concern, and a circle of influence.” The trick is to determine which you are standing in. You may care about a current issue that dogs you incessantly, but is there anything you can do about it? Have you any standing to affect its trajectory, or ameliorate the outcome?

Perhaps concern about this past election was cause for some anxiety. As Election Day neared, current politics refocused the suffering of friends, community, the globe. Our ire fanned into flame again, despite resistance. Self-righteousness returned, the flame fully oxygenated. In outrage, in disbelief and grief. How are we not better than this? With all we know and have seen over our lifetimes, how have we not figured this out? The logical response was to vote for your candidate – your influence over the issue.

We are directed back to Self, to a place in time and space – in a body – and the only Being we have any hope whatsoever to manage. Though still part of the collective society, we must turn inward and become perhaps more solitary. Dial the flame down so it does not consume all fuel, but maintains a steady heat and light, so we may settle into a tranquility, aware and non-reactive, sensitive to what is wanted and needed in the moment. At home.

A candle’s flame is a fragile affair, so must be tended with gentle movements – and a resolute heart.

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