Edge of the Fire

A quick parable today. Imagine a fire pit at night. Close to the fire it is
hot, smoky even. You get a limited view, but it is great if you like it
scalding hot. Back up a bit and you are in the sweet spot, a foot or two away.
Warm and comfortable with an excellent view of the flames licking the logs. Go
out a few more feet from there and it gets precipitously colder and darker.
This is the edge of the fire. Close enough to occasionally get some benefit of
the burning wood, but never enough to be satisfied. Beyond is darkness. You can
see the fire, but the warm feeling is lost.

The fire pit is analogous to the stages of life. Being close to the fire is
like childhood. Intense and emotional. It is easy to get hurt, and hard to see
with all the smoke, but exhilarating to be so close to something so energetic.
The sweet spot is young adolescence (teenager). A little more wisdom has taught
you to sit back a bit to get the whole view allowing you to enjoy the fire from
a distance. Then again the fire is not really why you are there, it is the
other people around the fire that brought you to the pit. The edge of the fire
is the intermediary stage from adolescence to adulthood. You can still see and
feel the fire, but the feeling is different, more distant. It is not so much
that the fire is less interesting from here, but you have new goals. You could
return to the fire, what you know, or you could venture out beyond the fire
into the darkness. The darkness is adulthood because you can never quite see
far enough to tell where you are going. Yet you still ventured out, there must
be something worth looking for in the dark.

What I am (poorly) getting at here is when all you ever know is one thing or
one lifestyle (in my parable, sitting around the fire) it can be very difficult
to move beyond that comfort zone (the darkness around the fire). This is the
area just on the edge of the fire where you have to make a conscious choice to
leave the fire pit. This choice does not have subjectively better options.
Plenty of people stick with what they know and live fine adult lives. Plenty of
other people commit fully and venture out into the night. You can even live in
the middle ground (with me!) and skirt around the edges enjoying the old and
the new. This parable does not exist to make you unsatisfied with your choice,
but to inform you that you have made one. More than that, that you actively
continue to make a choice on how to lead your life.

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