the fire inside

fijians are reknowned for their traditional firewalking – it was customarily part of a religious ritual which required extensive preparation, cleansing, and meditation. in order to undertake this passage, their bodies and minds should first be in the proper state – if they have rigourously achieved this, they will feel no pain. the underlying belief is that firewalking is like life – it requires discipline, balance, clarity, optimism.

and i am reminded of my own firewalking experience. i didn’t fast or pray or carry out any sort of symbollic preparation. yet it required the same leap of faith – a trust in something greater than my own fears, a belief in the existence of something outside the boundaries of my limited knowledge of the world and its workings. is it untapped mental power? protection by the divine? complex physics?

i don’t know – and i’m not sure it matters. or that they’re not all one and the same.

what i know is this: when every ounce of experiential learning and self-preservation instinct is screaming up and down your nerve endings as your foot is poised over red hot coals… you will never take that step unless you believe in something.

and that’s where i think firewalking is like life – because it’s what we face every day when we get up in the morning. it’s that belief in something - one’s self, one’s religion, one’s environment, one’s family that keeps us waking and walking and every so often putting our fate in the hands of forces we can’t see or fully understand. maybe it’s a god. maybe it’s love. maybe it’s human instinct.

maybe it’s the physics of fire.

maybe it’s life.

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