While camping two weekends ago, my husband and I discovered some truth about how building a fire is like starting a movement...
Starting a fire:
Each time we built a fire, it took a few tries. We tried lots to get the heat going and make the flames last. Leaves that would burn up fast and easy, small twigs that might catch on, news paper that was crumpled up, and oxygen. No matter what we put into the fire, oxygen was what ultimately seemed to really get the fire going.
One gives a fire oxygen by blowing on the hot coals. If you blow on the delicate flame, then it will be like blowing out a candle. If you have built a fire, you know that the coals are at the base of the wood pile you are trying to light.
On our third night of camping, we were about to loose what little fire we had started. Piling all the leaves and twigs we could find, on it trying to keep it going. As it was getting smokier, I decided this thing needed some oxygen. I had to basically put my head in the fire ring and get down on the level of the coals so as not to extinguish what bit of fire was there. It was not the most comforting situation I have ever been in. The risk of my hair catching fire, or something like that was a little nerve racking. As I blew on the coals, they started to revive and became those glowing embers that can create the so needed spark for the fire to light. So I moved closer and continued to provide the oxygen for those embers. Suddenly, the flames burst out of the embers! Thankfully, not big enough to catch me on fire, but enough to catch on to the other pieces of wood.
As this particular fire proceeded, a few things happened that were necessary for it’s growth.
- Risk. The first part of making this happen was the risk involved with getting so close to the fire.
- Oxygen had to be given to revive the heat of the coals, every now and then.
- The structure as it started, had to collapse, or be moved so that more wood could be added and more air flow could happen.
- The fire needed not only continual oxygen, but continual wood to keep burning.
Starting a movement:
- Starting a movement or creating change can be risky. And many people have gotten burned. However, risk is crucial to get that first spark to happen.
- No matter who you are, change has to happen from the ground up. If you want to instill change in those you work with, you have to get down at their level and breath their air. If you blow from the the top down, you will eventually extinguish what you have “burning”.
- Structural shifts are necessary and vital for the growth of movements. If the movement as a whole is not willing to shift, then the fire will not go any further.
- Once a movement or change is started, there has to be continual support. Support for the individual and support for the overall movement. As a leader of the movement of the fire noted above, I had to continually get down on the level of the coals and support them with oxygen. I also had to sustain the overall fire or “movement” with new fresh wood.
The next time you have something you want to change, or start... find a safe place to build a fire and think on these ideas for awhile before you jump into your new initiative. It will be mesmerizing and very rewarding to see the similarities.
Plus you can always make smores!