So! You’ve got your own fire going and you’re open to sharing it with the right people. Just stay open and aware. Observe the fires around you and see if any are inviting. If one is, pursue it gently but never chase it and never deceive yourself. Don’t just start fires willy-nilly out of curiosity or loneliness.
Pyrophobics have exacting requirements for a fire and will wait a very long time for the perfect firemaker to come along; pyromaniacs want a fire with any old person. Try and be somewhere in between. Be honest. If you’re not willing and/or able to build a fire with someone let them know. Maybe it’s them, maybe it’s you. Either way be honest with yourself and with them and follow it through.
Maybe you don’t often meet people who you want to share warmth with and maybe not many people approach your fire. Maybe you like your own fire and you’re picky, just waiting for a true legend to come along who can build a fun, sexy, expansive and caring fire just the way you like. Sharing is nice with the right person but some people are just happy to sit by their own fire alone. That’s okay, nobody has any obligation to share and you shouldn’t push them. So have a yarn, but if it’s still not there, walk away in pride.
Sometimes you will see someone’s fire and want to warm yourself by it. Ask if it’s okay. Make sure you respect their boundaries and make sure you can bring something to the table too. If you have nothing they want or need be honest, don’t lie to them. Maybe they’ll be okay for you to sit awhile before you leave, but maybe they don’t want to be responsible for your warmth as well as their own. That’s okay too. We’ve all had times where we’ve not wanted to do someone’s work for them, or we wanted to be alone. Just accept it and move on.
Maybe one day you’ll be sitting there, warming yourself, and somebody will come by wanting to share fires. How exciting! How heart warming! But you will need to figure out if it’s gonna work before you commit yourself to the flames. This is because regardless of how careful you are, unless you are exactly on the same page you’ll probably both get a bit burnt. It’s the nature of this game, feeling out what is too much and what is not enough. Don’t take every stray ember personally, just yarn it out. That said, if someone stokes you into a wildfire then walks away leaving you to calm it alone and you get burnt there’s no need to burn them back. Take space away to rebuild at a safe distance. But if someone burns you repeatedly, please walk away out of respect for yourself, and don’t go back.
Sustaining fires with others
Starting a fire is easy. Sustaining it takes work, patience, dedication, awareness and adjustments. Everybody has a different idea of what makes a good fire. You need to figure out if you’re on the same page. If you’re not, can you compromise so you are? Maybe their vision is exactly what you need without having realised it. But maybe not. Don’t compromise if you don’t feel both safe and excited.
Maybe their idea of a good fire is boring. See if you can inflame them with your burning vision. Maybe theirs seems dangerous and out of your comfort zone. If you are willing to try new things, be absolutely certain that they will not put your safety at risk for their selfish vision or you will get burnt. If somebody endangers you when you have been clear about your boundaries, they have been selfish and disrespectful. Walk away without regrets.
Sometimes building fires is easy – you both have the same vision and you don’t need to communicate over every nut and bolt. This can be good as long as you don’t let familiarity breed contempt. Keep it fresh and breathe new life into the flames when it burns too low.
You’ll need to start your fire small and then maintain it. To gather wood for fuel, you will both need to go away periodically. If you both just sit there without moving, your stores are going to run out very soon. If you continue to feed it with bits and pieces once it’s blazing it’ll burn out very quickly and you’ll be exhausted. Yet if you try and start it with big logs you’ll smother it. The only fire that can handle big logs is one that has been burning large for a long time. So until it’s solid, break up the big ones into more manageable pieces before tossing them on.
For every problem, a solution
Some people are just bright and warm and attract people like moths to a flame. They welcome people sitting by their fires, but be aware that they may need their own time too. Don’t overstay your welcome and smother their fire. Always stay strong and warm in your own.
Some people just can’t seem to cultivate their own fire and so they seek it outside. These people are lazy and will prance around to others’ camps, taking in warmth and nourishment but not giving anything in return – no fuel, and no work to tend it. Avoid these people. They want to steal your hard work and patience. They’ll need to either give something back or go off and build their own otherwise your energy will be spent before long.
Some people are able to sustain a few fires at once. If you’re okay with that then the only reason for them to only have a fire with you is outdated and irrelevent. Maybe you want to do it too. But if they’re being stingy with fuel for your fire let them know. Never let anyone take you for granted. Even if your fire is not the only priority, you still must be a priority.
Some people will build fires with others without you knowing. Maybe they’re good at hiding it. But maybe after they’ve been away a while they come back looking suspiciously warm with the smell of smoke in their hair, then you know they’ve been getting their warmth in places without your consent. Maybe you can forgive and forget, and maybe you can open your relationship up to suit your desires. But then again, dishonesty can be difficult to purify.
Even if you’re okay with tending multiple fires, do it safely. Never endanger any of your fires with unsafe burning from the others because certain things can pollute and spread like wildfire. If somebody contaminates your fire with shit from their other fires, they have not respected your fire and safety regulations.
Sometimes we start fires with other people without meaning to. Maybe it only warms us for one night, maybe we keep going back. Be honest with everyone. If you deceive one or both of your lovers, whether it be for a day or a year, the guilt will eat at you and your own fire will rage and splutter in turn. Everyone deserves to know, immediately if not sooner. It stopped being about your self-preservation once you did the dirty so you don’t act with integrity, you don’t deserve the warmth you are getting.
Sometimes we might build a fire with somebody, but it’s not a fire we want our friends and family to see, and it might not be a fire we want to burn forever. There’s nothing wrong with this in and of itself, but be honest. Really, if you’re not proud of what you have, there’s no point maintaining it. Conversely, if someone promises you the stars, uphold them to it. If they talk about things but don’t ever do them, they’re just blowing hot air into the fire and the scattered ashes will leave scars reminding you that empty words can hurt. Love is not a promise. It is a practise.
Make somebody prove to you that they can in fact keep you warm. Sometimes you might delude yourself that this fire is warming you when it’s not; maybe you’re just fuelling the fantasy and not paying attention to what’s in front of your eyes, dying. Don’t sit there like the little match girl, wasting your precious matches on a flame that will not sustain you. Yes the sparks are pretty, but like her you will soon run out of fuel and you will freeze. Be alert and be aware. If someone’s not pulling their weight, sort it out. When things become dark, cold and foggy, all you need to do is chuck a log on the fire and have a yarn to shed some light on matters.
Sometimes one or both of you must be away for some time, and so maybe one of you can’t give as much as is needed in a certain period. This is fine and necessary and normal, especially if fuel is running low or the fire has burned too intensely for a long time. Just be honest about this process. Take space away if needed, but remember that too much time away, not enough fuel and that fire will die quickly.
Even if you’ve built a nice fire with someone, you’ll still need to keep your own, so stay dedicated to yourself as well as the other person. And both of you will need to give fuel. Sometimes you may not feel like it giving much but relationships need to come before individual egos to be maintained properly. If the other person is not giving enough, and you need them to give because you are spent, because you already gave too much, they are not pulling their weight and they’re having it way too easy while you exhaust yourself. Don’t let this happen. Expect respect.
Putting fires out safely
If you decide you can’t tend to the fire anymore don’t ever piss or shit on it. You’ll burn yourself and it will stink, polluting all the good memories. No matter what hurts and heartaches went down, that fire did nourish you for a while and made you who you are now. And don’t kick the other person out or leave them there. You need to both take what you need, both consciously put the rest of the fire out and both walk away to return to your own fires. Don’t ever sit there alone, waiting for the other person to come back. Go tend to your own neglected fire because that one’s done.
If you decide to abandon the fire, maybe one day you will want to share just a friendly fire. This can be dangerous and painful, but it can also be lovely and healing. If somebody burnt you before, you need to be certain that they understand how their actions hurt you, that they take responsibility for it, and that they never do it again. Without this knowledge, the old fire will continue to burn you inside and you will not be able to trust them with even the friendliest of little fires. Pain needs to be acknowledged before it can heal properly and cleanly.
Sometimes it might hurt you to see somebody you once shared a fire with to build one with somebody else. Don’t be angry and ruin theirs. Don’t hide away either. Face it and be happy that they are at least warm, because everyone deserves warmth, especially those who have hurt you, because people who hurt others are the ones who need the most love. Most importantly, be happy that you are now free to share fires with people who are better for you.
Carrying the fire outwards and onwards
Whoever you are, you’ve got a good fire inside you. You’ve worked long and patiently to build it the way it is. Yes, you’ve been burnt by others, and you’ve been fed hot hair, but you’re learning and you’re grateful for your lessons; the scars have bloomed fresh in flesh and you’re good as new. Yes, you like your own fire, and you’re willing to share it with others. So, stay strong and proud and open and alert, loving, playful, authentic, sincere, hot, warm and gentle, stay open to building new fires with the right people. Strive to be the best version of yourself you can be, and one day you’ll meet someone and like what you see and they’ll like you and you can both give it a red hot go.
Here’s to the fire inside each and every one of us. May we always keep our own flames fed, may we ever enjoy the nourishing fires of each other and may we all be beacons of light and bringers of warmth wherever we go.
– Defender Of The Faith, 5th of June, 2014
Postscript: Timing is no excuse. I found this out some years ago when my ex-boyfriend passed away and I experienced some of the most intense feelings I could never have imagined. In the years after he died I re-lived our entire relationship again, and I shed a million tears for it all. He was the love of my life up until then, and I had lost him again, this time forever.
We had broken up because the timing wasn’t right, and we should never have been together because the timing was wrong, but if we had used that as an excuse I would never have had the honour of him loving me. Although breaking up was the best thing for us, I never forgot how beautiful and loved I felt because he was part of my life. He was a writer, and a dreamer, and gave me letters, and honesty, and poetry, and unlocked things in me that I never knew existed.
With him gone, I felt so alone with those feelings. We had shared something exquisite, and we still carried those memories in our hearts when we parted ways. Now that piece of my heart that was inside his own was cremated with him and scattered in the night wind. What a terrible, overwhelming loneliness that realisation brings! All of his love for me was gone; perhaps not dead, but transformed into something unrecognisable, ungraspable, and blown across the Earth, never to be whole again.
When the last person that loved you is dead timing becomes an inadequate excuse, because life becomes transparent, love is ephemeral and relationships take on a deeper meaning. So if you want to start that fire then do it now, because timing is no excuse.
(Dedicated to our Rome, and his Rachel, who have shown us that timing is no excuse for true love)