By: Joseph Daylover
A creative writing teacher of mine once spoke of dynamic characters, those who have “The Fire”—a passion or thirst for experience. Stereotypically, these characters drive plots, take action, and are romantics. But the quiet ones have it, too, an intuition that must be explored at all costs, an unknown force pushing them forward. They seek. They aren’t jaded. They hold out for possibility and refuse to accept adversity. And my favorite: everyone feels their magnetic power; the room changes when they enter; everyone wants a taste of what they have. Why? Because we all love a good burn.
But of course, danger lurks. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a story. The Fire can be used for evil as we know. Those possessing the true fire, then, create instead of destroy. And they don’t hoard it. There’s plenty to go around, and they want others to feel it. There’s too much beauty to experience to fret over lack. I’ll bet some of your favorite stories are about characters with the fire or rediscovering the fire—true self-actualization….in other words, a greater awareness of their own capability, an awe for the magic surrounding themselves and in nature. Why are we so excited for the next Star Wars? To witness Rey’s Jedi training, of course, the glory of her catching fire. In literature, some of my favorite examples are “The Razor’s Edge”, “A Separate Peace”, and “The World According to Garp”, to name a few.
So then, as our lives and stories unfold, we journey to find and sustain the fire, but nothing good comes easy. We slip into the mentality of “the herd”—feelings of routine and insignificance, the crushing idea that nothing matters so we might as well conform, play it safe, hedge our bets. Somehow this feels safer, because, actually, we fear what the fire may bring…perhaps an early death. The irony is, we find a slower and more painful demise living with the herd. In “The Fire Next Time”, James Baldwin said, “…one ought to rejoice in the fact of death—ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life” (124). We decide, right? That must mean every moment represents a chance to connect, to rekindle, even when you’re in line at the DMV. Turns out everything matters.
Baldwin, James. The Fire Next Time. New York: Dell Publishing, 1962.
What kind of life would you lead if you had no fear? #AlchemistMovement