I’m intrigued by Stephen Pyne‘s anthology of fires. Great fires have been given names, such as the 1950 Chanchaga Fire in Canada which burnt through 1.4 million hectares (mostly forestry), or the 1987 Black Dragon Fire in China which burnt for twenty five days, killing more 200 people and making 33,000 homeless. Both fires were started by Human activity.
The earth will recover from these fires, and will often be the better for it; not so for the families involved.
I realise, I have my own fires which have brought benefit to me, although they were uncomfortable at the time: the Great Sabbatical Fire of 1998, radically altered the trajectory I was on, and the 2005 Strengths Fire altered my way of thinking in a life-transforming way. This one still burns beneath the surface of everything I do, and recently erupted on the surface leading to me stepping out of the work I’ve done for more than thirty years. I also set small fires each day, as I seek to burn away anything prideful or greedy or foolish – often taking the form of being controlling, demanding, and unrealistic.
Questions are great fire-sparks.
Historian David Hackett Fischer describes questions as “cerebral machines that convert curiosity into controlled inquiry.”* Imagine a world in which questions didn’t exist or were banned. Many live as though they wished this were so. Questions threaten the status quo – the deadening build-up of unimaginative and inactive culture and society; Polly LaBarre suggests the best sparking questions are “subversive, disruptive, and playful.”*
Here’s a question I’ve been pondering over the last year:
What would the world be like if we debunked the myth of only a few are creative, the myth of creativity being a solo occupation, and the myth of finding answers being better than asking questions?
(*From Warren Berger’s A More Beautiful Question.)