Fall approaches, the air gets crisper, and times for gathering around fires is upon us.
If you ever look into a flame, I bet you feel peace. Something rare exists in staring at a fire. Especially a campfire. For some reason, flames of fire captivate our gaze. We look and become enthralled. Fixated on the glowing coals, shades of color, smoke of the tips. Fire mesmerizes us. Fascinates us. Instills a certain calmness if we let it. The fire captivates our eyes, but sets our minds free. Our thoughts roam, and we ponder. Trivial worries turn to ash. Breaths of questions. Its dangerous beauty demands respect, but also extends an invite.
In Charles Dickens’ novel Hard Times, when asked what encouraged her to wonder, Louisa says, “I was encouraged by nothing, mother, but by looking at the red sparks dropping out of the fire, and whitening and dying. It made me think, after all, how short my life would be, and how little I could hope to do in it”.
The details and process of the fire encourage her to wonder. She contemplates her existence. Because she found something relatable in the fire. A connection between her life and her observation of nature.
The observation of the fire enraptures us because it signifies something hidden. The existence of the flames indicates a transformation taking place. The molecules of the wood form a chemical reaction with the molecules of the air. Thus, creating new molecules filled with excess energy. This energy is expressed through heat and light as it escapes in the flame. The flame is the product of conversion. A sign pointing to the process. A new creation. More beautiful and dangerous than both the substances used to create it.