For Love of Fire
I have always loved a raging fire. Bonfires, beach fires, fires in the fireplace, candle flames... I find flames hypnotic and inspiring. Fire is visual music to me.
In Portugal where I live, forest fires are part of the late summer landscape. Sometimes a carelessly thrown cigarette butt will light up a eucalyptus grove and sometimes the fires are started intentionally. The weather map on the news in August is always followed by a map of the country with little flames representing the daily burn. Fire is expected here.
There are sometimes fatalities and property damage. Sometimes there are so many fires burning that ash falls from the sky like snow. When it finally does rain in September or October the water mixes the ash and oil on the streets into soapy bubbles.
Fire is unpredictable and all-consuming. It’s gentle dance becomes an awe-inspiring frenzy if it’s not contained.
And I was thinking about that this weekend as I remembered what it was like to be consumed by alcohol. I’ve heard that fire is a healthy part of the life of a forest. Like we hear that a few drinks a week is healthy for our heart or keeps our blood sugar down.
I’ve often built fires as the center of a social gathering. The bonfire at the beach that was the biggest, warmest, and most welcoming to not only my family and friends but strangers walking by. The roaring fireplace fire at the center of the Christmas party or family movie night. I’ve sung around campfires with a group and sat alone, introspectively watching the flames for hours.
In so many ways these contained, controlled, monitored fires have had the same sort of place in my life that drinking did until it consumed me.
And it did consume me.
With all of the ferocity of a raging forest fire.
That is something that I can never forget. Alcohol is not controllable for me like the fireplace fire contained in a box.
Alcohol for me is a raging forest fire. If I drink again it may start slowly, it may begin to burn in a straight line that looks like it will follow a predictable path, but inevitably, it will become an all-consuming frenzy that destroys everything.
So I chose to not have that one glass of champagne to celebrate, or that one glass of wine to relax, or that one gin and tonic on a hot day because when I read this for the first time....
"The man takes a drink
The drink takes a drink
The drink takes the Man "
I knew that that was me.
It might have been written by George Bernard Shaw… or maybe it’s ancient eastern wisdom… but it is exactly where I was. I had been taken. But I got myself back!
If that quote describes you, or once described you, please remember... just do the next right thing... don't drink today... and day by day stuff'll fall into place. You might feel a bit lost or bored now and then because drinking is an activity that needs to be replaced with something else .... BUT ... if you chose to do something other than drink... one day at a time... you'll never regret it .
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