Philosophical posts have never been my forte, really. Sure — sometimes my musings and thoughts on life, the universe and, well, everything manage to come off as somewhat intelligent, or at least aware of the world around me. Usually, though, they resemble pretentious ramblings, the words of someone who wishes they knew more, thought bigger things, used longer words. Occasionally — more often than I’d care to admit —, that’s true, I suppose. But other times, like today, it’s simply a reflection of my inability to string anything more than the most simplistic of thoughts together into a coherent message, my lack of competence in my paragraphs flowing from one idea to the next, to the next.
Let’s think of a flame.
A flame, full of life, burning brightly and vibrantly. A fire, full of colour, of sound and warmth, of hope and anticipation for something new, something different, for tomorrow. Dancing flames, sparks flying like excitable butterflies in the midday sun, finally free, full of potential and ideas, desperate to use their time before the clock forgets to tick.
We are those flames. Not we, as in you and I, but we, as in individuals. One of those flames, somewhere in the heart of the vibrant fire, is mine; intertwined with it is yours, along with someone else’s, and a strangers, and your best friend’s. Each of us is a flame, individually bright and warm, but working together to form something even brighter, even warmer, even better.
But what is a flame, I wonder, without fuel? Flames twirl and lick at their borders, but only as long as their fuel continues to allow them to do so. When the wood stops burning, the coal stops bursting into beautiful flames, the fire goes out, and the flames die.
When does our fuel run out? Is it when we die, and have nothing more to give — can provide no more of ourselves to the swirling, engulfing glow? Or is it more complex than that, less life-oriented? Maybe we control that fuel, in turn deciding how brightly we shine. Consciously or subconsciously, purposefully or otherwise, maybe our own selves — the inner workings of our minds — determine just how much that flame burns.
Or perhaps it is that simple. Perhaps the flame, like nothing else in this world, is a constant, a set degree of heat and light, allowing us to neither progress, nor degrade.
And, yet, the fire itself — the very heart of the being — depends on those flames, each individual flame brings something to the world, something different, and yet so essential. It’s easy to think that, without one flame, the fire would survive, that there are plenty others to take its place, to fill the slit produced by its burnt-out embers. Yet, no. For if everyone sees it this way, and we all allow our flames to flicker and die, the fire itself fades to a dull, faint glow, shrivelling and collapsing into itself until there is nothing more of it than a few fluttering ashes, scattered to the wind.
The fire cannot die. If the fire dies, then what’s the point? What is the damn point, if the fire goes out, and no one cares? When the fire dies, we die: our memories, our hopes and dreams, our pasts and our presents and our futures, everything dies. We live, in the belief — less so the knowledge — that there is something to come, that, once we die, something of us will live on. We live, with the need to believe that once the void swallows us, we will not be forgotten. The responsibility lies with us: to fuel our flames as devotedly and consistently as we can, so as to allow it to shine for as long as we may let it. Not only are we feeling our own flames, keeping our own slivers of the fire alive, but we’re keeping the fire as a whole going, too. And, once our flame loses its glow, and flickers away to a calmer place, we will have the knowledge that it was needed, and that whilst its slit is filled with 5, 10, 100 more flames, it won’t be forgotten, and it will never be replicated.