Ten things to learn from a campfire
It can start from something as a tiny spark caused by two sticks being rubbed together, but if I’m being less poetic and more realistic, there is probably a good squirting of charcoal lighter fluid and a wadded up piece of newspaper. Maybe even this very piece.
But it all ends up in one, glorious finale of flames. The campfire. The same random dancing orange and red flickers that arise out of a mere pile of sticks and logs. For centuries, these same images have brought people together and been a source of warmth, food, poetry and song. The same warm figure in the evening light has made cavemen scream, cowboys eat, and certainly have toasted a few gazillion marshmallows.
Surely something so ancient has wisdom in its midst, right? The campfire has a lot to teach us, if only we’d put down our weenie roasting sticks and listen. What a better world this would be if we all took a few tips from the fire pit.
1. Warmth will bring people together. Whether it’s the dead of winter or the height of summer, not many sights can cause people to plop down in their lawn chairs and test the heat by flashing their palms up to the fire to test the heat.
2. Some things are better to look but not touch. This is not the lesson you should be learning at a campfire, but its probably one of those things that you learn once and remember forever. (If only children would remember this when touching Grandma’s fine china or when visiting art museums…)
3. Smoking is bad for you. There is probably nothing more that will send the gathered people running than a low-lying smoke, despite the folklore tricks of shouting “white rabbit!” three times to make the smoke change direction. The folklore doesn’t work well with tobacco smoking, either. Unfortunately.
4. Fire rings are not a shoe rest. Put things where they belong, no matter how convenient it might seem. We all have a pair of sneakers with a melted toe or a line burned across the middle, do we not?
5. Be the brightest light you can and you will be surrounded with friends. We all know that moths are attracted to the light, and some even poke fun at their tiny insect brains acting so automatically against their will. But we’re not much different. If you light it (or be the light,) they will come.
6. Tinder, then kindling, then fuel. In life, you’ve got to start small before you can grow. This even helps when you douse a hefty log with charcoal fluid.
7. Popping wood and spinning tales beat out a wide screen TV more often than not. More mesmerizing than you’d guess, the best stories and the greatest laughs are heard while gathered ‘round the fire. Such pure joy rarely comes from a two dimensional electronic source. Plus your clothes won’t have that sweet smell of wood smoke in the morning.
8. Know your boundaries, and don’t let your flaming limbs fall where they shouldn’t. That whole look-but-don’t-touch thing goes both ways.
9. Be honest and real, and you will bring out the true nature of those around you. Raw and as instinctive as the moth, you can’t help but be yourself when next to a fire. The best example is a little boy. Even the most well-tempered angelic child will find it impossible to not put a stick in, catch the end of fire, and run around with a lit “torch.” Instinctively, his parents will yell at him.
10. And finally, don’t go to bed if you’re still all aflame.
So the next time you bring out the bag of marshmallows and gather wood, think of how much smarter and better you’ll be, and what a gift you are giving those around you. Maybe you’ll even be smart enough to save this piece of paper, instead of crumpling it up and squirting it with flammable liquid.