There is natural fire (first fire). There is industrial fire (third fire).
In between there is anthropogenic fire (second fire): Human fire – our greatest technology.
Stephen Pyne concludes his fascinating book on fire with these words:
‘Earth remains a fire planet. How fire appears, what biological role it assumes, what technological work it does – all will depend on how humanity sees itself as a fire creature and fire monopolist, how it understands itself in the great scheme of things … .’*
Pyne is observing the demise of second fire. I’m a prime example. I may experience first fire at a distance – lightening hits combustible material and a fire begins. As I write on my laptop I’m using third fire. But I don’t know how to make fire, or use it to farm or make something with.
Pyne’s concern for the loss of fire skills is most focused on the renewing of the earth’s flora. By not fire-scaping, natural fires become megafires – far more destructive.
I want to make a metaphorical leap to what second fires mean for us. First or natural fires here are the things which happen to us in life – we wait for them to occur, and they may be good or bad. Industrial fires are those we benefit from as part of the system which is largely invisible to us but upon which we’re dependent.
Second, or anthropogenic, fire is the ability everyone has to be a maker of fire – spark people.
Spark people know their values and capabilities, resources invisible to others are visible to them, and every day they look for ways to employ these. They know one person can have an effect on the field of the emerging future and, when they find each other, they create storyboards of the future, explorers of the adjacent possible – because there are many possible futures.
As such, they can be transformative people.
‘My idea of the modern Stoic is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into information, mistakes into initiation, and desire into understanding.’**
“You have to break away from the day-to-day, immerse yourself in a new way of thinking about yourself.”^
(*From Stephen Pyne’s Fire.)
(**From Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile.)
(^Businessman Gary Wilson, quote in Joseph Jaworski’s Source.)