For days now, we’ve known the edge of calamity. For months and years, we’ve seen the signs of destined change.
These ways of reluctant living, these dreams of idle fancy and externally-given success, have shown themselves to be insufficient. We’ve been dreaming of vast revisions, we’ve been nursing fantasies of a surge against these old wheels of habit and their inadequacies. Soon, we’ve thought, soon there will be a sign to throw down all our structures, to break up the land.
The sign has come and it is darkness.
We’ve rehearsed the steps a hundred, a thousand times. We’ve made mental notes of particular aspects of our psyches and thought – I must be sure to destroy this in particular, when the sun sets and I begin my great work. We’ve left spray-painted cryptic symbols scattered all across the landscape. We’ve longed for and feared the setting of the sun, for it is the time to reduce all these things of self to rubble. Although what we’ve done isn’t working, although what we’ve found isn’t what we need… we tremble now that the light fades.
We’ve read with gladness all the well-meaning men of half-measure, who’ve told us that we can make our changes in tiny steps. They’re the prophets of slow and steady progress, and they seem wise. We’ve seen incremental change work, great pyramids built up into the sky. So we told ourselves we believed it, kept our old habits and lives, and further prepared the ground for the night of change. We have used the wisdom of tiny steps not for change, but to delay the darkness.
The Time Has Come
The darkness looms greater and greater now, the night won’t be refused. Our repetitions gave us comfort, but fed the night. Our fears and preparations no longer grow, we simply repeat them now. We still rehearse again and again, faster and faster as we come to wholly acknowledge what we’ve known for so long. We adopted those values and predications as temporary measures, many years ago, meaning fully to lay them down and vest ourselves more fully with life when we had time. But we never had time.
So time will have us, and now we must run.
Not in little measures and tiny inspirations. Not in half-hearted changes and insipid clinging to things that don’t work. We need to really stretch our legs, really make this run count. It might be our only run.
We must traverse the entire landscape in just one night, razing it to ash as we go. We’ll touch all those cryptic symbols we’ve left as we run in fire and a great blazing storm will leap up behind us. It’ll be the fire of our burning, the burning of our hearts.
We won’t cling to the visions of lesser men this night. We won’t attempt to reform the land in their platitudes and life purposes. It’ll be our night, a night of cleansing away that which no longer serves us. We’ll burn these ideals, these bad attitudes and false roles we’ve purchased with monies of independence from black hats and sheepish interpreters. We’ll burn the reactions and habits we’ve learned from our fellow men, until the training and moralities lie as sputtering embers.
If we’ve marked our spending for burning, we’ll spend nothing at all. Only the poorest food will come trundling home in the trunks of our cars this night. Everything else, every penny to entertainment or richness, all will be vehemently refused. We won’t buy out of obligation or social esteem, for other people or for ourselves. Every impulse to buy that rises will be burnt out of our hearts in angry refusal.
If we’ve marked our diets for burning, we’ll face the food that tempts us. We won’t make it easier by hiding it from sight. We won’t bow to social pressure or reward ourselves for our victories. We’ll see it, and we’ll want it, and we’ll burn it out of our hearts in our adamant refusal to consume.
If we’ve marked our addictions for burning, we’ll acknowledge the beast that growls within. It sits and waits in the darkness until our wills are weakened, and grabs out through us for our destruction time and again. We’ll surround it with flames, illuminate it with spirit. We’ll call to God to nestle within us, to stab at the beast again and again. We’ll burn it out of our hearts through divine possession.
And more! We’ll burn our dependence, we’ll burn our social anxiety, we’ll burn our yearnings for wealth! We’ll burn our insecurities, our pleasures, and our obsession with our bodies! We’ll burn our shames, our sentimentalities, and our confidences! Even our evaluations and sensibilities will be consumed, for they’ve guided us hither. Up in flames will go all our comforts and excuses throughout this long, hard night.
Prepare The Dawn
The fevered vision of our burning run is a bitter landscape charred and wrecked. All this old self, all these old excuses and impotent longings for greatness will lie in ruins. Gone will be the habilitations of man, gone all these old measures of self and desire and unfulfilled possibility. All of that will be merely a backdrop of decimation, an unimportant contextual scene framing a new creature.
A new self, a new life. A burning man, unbounded, climbing on his own shoulders.
When at last the great night recedes and we stand still again, we will know we have recovered the kingdom within us. For it was never without us, never above us, never after this life. It has been here, within us, a diminished flame unfulfilled and unloved this whole time.
All the burning men too will stand with us in the dawn. All that we burn, this night, is the damp and weary structures we’ve purchased from the sodden and lost. We cannot burn out the eternal flames of burning men, having let them in.
A new skill, a new living. A pyromancer of the heart, burning, free of all clinging.
Tomorrow we will rise with fierce flames of will and spirit within us. We’ll bring tempered strength to our lives, our friends, and our families. We’ll weep over what was lost, but the tears will rain down visages hardened and resolute. For we will have burnt away the weakness, the failure, the lack of fulfillment too. Never again will we have so much to burn, never again will we pander to the corruptions of ill-meaning or poor-sighted men. Not even when we are those men.
When those others come to us, we’ll burn them. Not in anger or vengeance, certainly not in hate – it’ll be the burning of truth and heart, of spirit and light. We’ll burn them with honesty, with our clear trivialization of their values, and above all with our refusal of them. When we are confronted with the lost and the weary, we’ll reach into their chests and set their dampened fire sticks aflame.
Tonight, in the darkness, we do the burning run. And tomorrow, at dawn, we spread the flames.
If you enjoyed this, please share it. You can read more of my writing in the archive or find more excellent things to read in the daily link roundup on the home page.