I was a boy scout in elementary school in Minneapolis, Minn. We went camping once every month. Yes, even in January. We had to plan our meals, decide on job duties, plan a route for hiking, not to mention build a fire. To build a fire properly takes the right environment. A clean level spot. A ring of dirt or stones was advised in my day. You will need the correct wood, tinder, kindling and fuel wood. There are a number of ways to arrange the wood. I usually used the lean-to arrangement. But most importantly you need a spark. Nothing works without a spark.
Everyday I see articles and inspirational photos about finding your passion. The messages from these post are great. But they set an expectation of going from nothing to a full fledge fire. It doesn’t work that way. You have to have a spark. And once that spark is alive, it must be nurtured or else it will be extinguished before it can ignite a fire.
I have seen this human spark start a change in people but falter before it could make a lasting effect on their life. I have seen it in the classroom. I have heard it in colleagues voices. There are things that start a spark in all of us. But instead of fostering that spark to a raging fire, the spark flares up for a day or maybe a week and is gone. Until something ignites the spark and the cycle continues.
There are some things I learned as a boy scout that might get that spark to catch fire. I wish I could guarantee you will find your passion and life becomes one of those inspirational photos, but I spent enough time trying to get a fire going in the winters of Minnesota to know that nothing is guaranteed. But I hope I can share some ideas with you to make a positive difference in your life. Let’s see if we can get that spark to a fire.
Work and Patience
The first aspect is patience and work. You can build the perfect lean-to, have dry, combustible tinder and the first spark doesn’t catch. Maybe it was the wind. Maybe it burned the tinder too fast. Maybe it started to rain. There are too many external factors to name that have the power to extinguish a spark. Same holds true in our life. I love to write, and I have so many ideas (sparks), but life just gets in the way.
If the first spark doesn’t catch, you try again. And again. And again. Even when a spark catches the tinder you have to work at keeping it burning until it catches the kindling. I remember huddled down around the small flame, hands spread out like bird wings trying to protect the flame from the wind. Sometimes gently blowing onto the flame so it would catch another twig on fire. It takes patience and work to get that spark to a level that it is ready for fuel wood.
Whatever sparks your heart, if you are not willing to work at it, you will never reach that level of passion in your life. You have to work and you have to have patience. You have to make time to work at that spark.
The Right Fuel
Once that spark has become a fire, it needs the right fuel. You would think any wood would work for a fire, but no. Each type of wood has their own properties for factors like heat, smoke, and coaling. Some are better for cooking, while others create a great campfire mood with intense flames and sparks.
There is not an easy answer for what fuel you need to make your spark into a fire. Factors to consider regarding this include time, finances, a mentor, and schooling. The hurdle for many people at this stage is the What now? question. No campfire keeps burning without someone looking after it. Nobody succeeds alone. Take the time and be honest in considering what or who you need to succeed. What will it take to keep the fire burning? Then collect the right fuel to keep your goals going.
The Fire is Out
Someone might be thinking, ‘I had the passion, in fact things were going well, but I still failed. The fire is out.’ I understand. Believe me I know the feeling. But don’t just throw away this post just yet.
Every morning we would start our breakfast fire from the coals left over from the night before. It would take a little work and patience but in no time we were cooking eggs and bacon. The embers of our failures can be the “spark” to new adventures, new goals. Those new goals still need work and patience. They will need the right fuel. But you can take those coals from a past spark to start a new fire.
Share with me how your spark became a fire.
One response to “A Spark”
I really enjoyed this writing and a spark in my life started 36 years ago sometimes it got close to dyeing but then the right wood was put on the almost cold embers and a small fire started again. I have been clean from drugs and alcohol for 36 years now and it is the little things of life each day that brings me great joy that I did not get to enjoy years ago because of the substance I put into my body. I also learned to build a fire without wet wood, so I have been building the fires singly since 1990.