I have a fascination with fire. The way the flames lisp through the air, tumble and turn and throw themselves to and fro. I read poetry at an open mic back in March or April, and I started with the same words–some echoes of my lines include “This is where it burns / all the flames / fighting their holy wars / let me smolder among them” and “Samson is burning at the broken pillars / limestone capsules and locks of hair / arms shriveled, torso chiseled / too far from marble, turned to dust.” But fire is fire, and words can’t tame any flame.
Certain songs make me think of fire, too. Jewel’s “Kiss the Flame” immediately comes to mind, as does Florence + the Machine “Rabbit Heart,” which I don’t think mentions fire at all. So does Sixpence None the Richer’s “Kosovo.” The flames burn through the melodies.
So it’s only natural I should want to meet the world in fire.
Our service project began on March 4–a Monday that should be the role model for all Mondays: We were excited, put in a great effort, and ended eager for the rest of the week. It became the cornerstone of our experience–the story’s climax, the man’s epiphany.
I loved the show “Charmed” while I was growing up. It painted a world of magic mixed with modern life, all the fantasy of Harry Potter drizzled over a world very much like my own–a world of friendship, love and loss, and real family struggles. One of my favorite characters was always Leo, a guardian of the show’s protagonists and also a strong male role model for a young boy like I was. Later in the show’s life, Leo underwent a series of trials that completely unmade his character–and part of his healing was something called a vision quest.
The vision quest is Native American in origin, a rite of passage usually consisting of a solitary immersion in nature to connect with one’s higher purpose. Like Leo, my life of late has been rife with trials that have completely unmade me–and like the role model he was when I was younger, Leo’s demonstration of personal growth through a vision quest has compelled me to set off on a similar journey of my own.
I wrote this the other day and figured it was too mentally askew to be worth posting. I was in a bad place–stressed by finals, consumed by philosophy–and strange things happen in dark corners on bright days, you know? So I’ve been thinking about it anyways, and since I’ve had some more time to consider it, to reflect on it, I’ve found there’s actually some merit in it after all.
So with no further ado, I present to you “Dancing Fire”:
If you were fortunate enough to catch my trilogy on identity last week, you’re already aware that I’m in a state of questioning the role of religion in my life but also feel most Jewish in a state of study and discourse. However, my independent study has a crucial flaw compared to a true student of Talmud: I lack a chaver, a friend, a study partner. Rarely do students study alone–they work in pairs, bouncing ideas from one mind to the other until true learning has been achieved.
I lack a study partner, but thankfully, I have you–and I always welcome comments and discussions, always welcome additional voices filling the blank places of the internet upon which these words encroach.
No matter, the summer has returned in full force. Less than a month ago I graduated with my associate degree and in two months I’ll begin classes at a new college working towards my bachelor’s degree. In the time since I walked across the stage and turned my tassel, I’ve gone to the beach, been a guest at another graduation, spent more time playing video games than I have in the last eight months, and studied over Shavuot and spent some serious time in the study of introspection. All of this has only been preparation for my annual dive into the Pirkei Avot. This year I’m starting chapter three and I hope you’ll follow me on this enlightening journey.
It seems like every post in this second book of the Pirkei Avot has begun with an introduction. Sometimes I don’t see a point in it, but so quickly it has become a trend, simply for my own amusement, I’m going to see how long I can keep it going. It also adds a layer of uniformity to all these posts (which contrasts the pattern of the first book, in which all the posts began with the teaching itself), and that isn’t a bad thing, is it?
Today’s introduction is going to be sweet, simple, and straightforward, because today’s–or yesterday’s–teaching is actually one I’m happily eager to write about–at long last, it would seem. Of course, specifying “yesterday’s” is the perfect segue to this sweet, simple, and straightforward introduction, which is simply this:
I got stuck going to the laundromat last night, so I didn’t have the time at home to write this then.