Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Life Parable: The World Is On Fire {Or Maybe It's Just A Car}


It’s Friday at 5:00pm–the essential shut-off valve in my mind has been cranked to a close and I am trying (through some visceral pains of my chronic issues) to decompress. I pull off on my exit ramp in that auto-pilot kind of way, and out of the corner of my eye I see what seems like smoke. Initially, I ignore it–I am in shut-off mode and that doesn’t usually allow for too much peripheral attentiveness. What had seemed like a smudge of poor eye sight begins to billow out of the left-side of my car window. I see a man slowing down next to me at the exit ramp stop light, his car beginning to puff furious exhales like the-little-engine-that-couldn’t-anymore. He still seems fairly nonchalant. I can’t tell if he’s even going to pull over–no hazards on, no outward signs of panic on his behalf, and so I mimic his laize-fare.

“Sure,” I think, “His car is steaming, and if my car is steaming I would be kind of panicked, but look at him. He’s cool, he’s unaffected. How present-minded of him. I admire that guy.”

And then, no sooner had I aligned with him and his chill-vibe, than the undercarriage of his car begins to catch on fire.

There was that one second, where he hadn’t seen the smoke turn to bright orange embers, still in his slow-to-stop and not rushing out of his vehicle mode, when I was still like, “Hey maybe a car fire isn’t all that bad.”

And then my off-valve went into crisis mode as I realized, “Oh crap. I am way too close to a car on fire! What the bleep is wrong with me!”

Survival mode and I veer off to the right ramp before the Zen of it all gots me blowed up. Luckily, the man had exited his vehicle as I began dialing 911. All in a Friday’s commute–the usual.

I watch the heavens and I find a calling
Something I can do to change what’s coming
Stay close to me while the sky is falling
Don’t wanna be left alone, don’t wanna be alone. Sarah Mclachlan’s “World Is On Fire”

It is easy to become complacent, shut-off, and shut-down in our world on fire. Sensationalism of anything turns everything into common place. We’re desensitized and numb to so much.

We have to wake up. See the fire and act. We can’t be bystanders. Like Sarah says, “Something I can do to change what’s coming.” I am not talking about Revelations-type foreboding, but we are existing in a paradigm shift and in the shifts and flames of a world in transition some things are carried forward and some things are lost.

We have to carry what we believe in through the transition, wake up to the fires on the side of the road (even if it doesn’t actually impact our vehicle/life) and do something. Live a life that means something–as if the whole thing is about to go up in flames…even if it isn’t.

Breathe, find space in the chaos. Find your own sacredness in the “white noise”. And live what you believe–as if the world is on fire. Let the fire wake you up.

The word “fire” in the Bible is a powerful expression of sacredness, passion, awakening, and volatility. Fire is literally powerful but metaphorically even more potent. Fire can (I can tell you from recently experience) literally awaken and enliven.

I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled. Luke 12:49

Remember that common question–if your house was burning down what would you take with you? If the world was on fire what would you carry with you through the flames, onto the other side? What values, morals, causes, and beliefs do you want to carry forward into your future and the future of others?
Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men [and women] cannot live without a spiritual life. Buddha

My reaction to car fires: complacency, panic, self-preservation, then 911 rescue call. Next time I should probably shuffle that order around a bit. And maybe cut out the complicity of complacency part.

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