Some days it’s okay to sit and watch the world burn.

My head space had been getting better up to where we left off, but what you need to know about my illogical thinking is I put my tent together backwards. I managed to undo it and fix everything fairly quickly, but this is the simplest tent I’ve ever owned. Most tents follow the same order: spread tent, poles together, poles in tent, raise tent, rain fly, stakes. I went: spread tent, stakes, poles together, poles in tent, raise tent, foolish stakes attempt 2, rain fly, stakes.

Once home was created, I made some lunch. Not a lot and nothing fancy, but for anyone who’s seen me in the last two weeks my appetite is back and I’m eating full meals again. Then I went for a walk. I explored the village, purchased post cards, stamps, a gift for mom, wandered around a small section of the large lake, and wandered over to the visitor’s center. I was too late for any tour tickets, but I had assumed that would be true because tickets would sell out before my train arrived. I was sad. If I hadn’t left the keys behind, I would’ve been able to go to the Highline and Many Glaciers trails. They’re where I wanted to take a bus to visit from this part of the park and where the gentleman recommended, but those will now be for another trip.

I sat at the lake and wrote post cards. Occasionally my mind would drift and I’d stare across the lake at the Howe Ridge Fire. A ranger had explained earlier that it’s a controlled burn now, but a lightning bolt started it, and the winds have been causing the fire to reignite. He didn’t think it would get out of control again.

Once I started thinking Le Guin’s The Word for World is Forest I immediately started thinking about how it feels as though the world is burning. So, I turned to left. Right there was a patch of Ghost Trees. They appear to be from a fire a few years ago and they’re surrounded by healthy forest. In a few years, they’ll be a healthy forest again.

Then I thought about the forest all along the bike path. It’s a young forest; no more than 30 years old would be my guess. It looked like black Spruce. I’m generally okay at this, but a gentleman on the train after I left confirmed there are a lot of black spruce forests around here. When I have internet again, I fully expect to find out I was wrong about the kind of tree. Anyway, it’s young, so I looked down and all the ghost trees that weren’t still standing were on the ground. They too had probably been part of a fire and now they were feeding this new forest.

My therapist didn’t like that my metaphor for my life since she’s been working with me has been seeing it on fire. I’ve explained it’s like a prairie fire to her before, but even that wasn’t enough for her last week. She was worried it’s too dark and self-destructive. She asked me to make a new one. I tried, but all that came out was talking about certain types of plants drop seeds that can only be cracked open in the heat of a fire. So, those plants only spread and grow after a fire. This feels like the last bit of burn before the ground cools, the ash is absorbed and new life gets to push it’s way out. I don’t feel like I’m being reborn, but I feel like I’ve reached the beginning of a new cycle. I’ve prevented a pattern from forming and these past years in Seattle have felt like I was holding my breath to see if I could do it. I did.

1 thought on “Some days it’s okay to sit and watch the world burn.”

  1. Fire has a destructive connotation as we think of the countless fires burning and those fighting to keep them from destroying people’s lives however your therapist is not considering that fire is not always permanently destructive. Controlled burns are necessary for growth. You mentioned the plant that is native to California that requires fire to continue it’s life cycle. Also remember the Phoenix. It may not feel like a rebirth now as you are putting your past behind you and are currently traveling through the flames that come with breaking with the past. It may not feel like it to you now but I see the seeds opening and laying the foundation for a Phoenix.


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