The Universe Isn’t Subtle (A Literal Metaphor In Real Time)

Photo by David Guthrie

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[EDIT: There is now a video version of this poem available, for those who prefer their poetry narrated and accompanied by moving flames.]

I take the things that hold me back
And cast them to the fire
I sit in the circle and watch them burn
To drums that never tire
Anxiety burns quickly, self-doubt too
As flames and music grow
But the first cast in escapes their fate
Saved by a mis-aimed throw
The most fearsome survives, and it’s true to life:
As always, fear burns slow.

The fire dances, and people too
Bellies undulating to didgeridoos
Fear’s edges smolder as coals grow hot
But fear is strong, not easily fought
At least not while given the power of thought

Voices join drums, dancers, didges, and fire
Celebrating love, life, the forest, and the pyre
My eyes stay trained where I left my fear
So desperate I am to leave that curse here

I sit amongst friends, this family of strangers
Joined by bonds of choice and love
They celebrate the night, though fraught with dangers
Filled with energy from each other and above
But I’m stuck on my fear; I want it to burn
And so the night goes
And so the world turns

Until at last I can bear it no more
And I cautiously approach
I face my fear, determined now,
And into the heat I encroach
I will not let this fear survive
Not one more moment, let alone ’til dawn
I reach into the fire to destroy my fear
And add my spirit to this song
But what I find, to my surprise
Is my fear has long since gone

Ashes, burning embers, coals
Are all that now remain
My fear burned oh so long ago
Amid the song’s refrain

Distracted by all this joy and love
I did not see it burn
I missed out on that cathartic view
For which I strongly yearned
But the metaphor’s not lost on me
For a lesson I did learn:

Fear is an illusion, powered by focus
It lives so long as it is given thought
Empowered by our many mental locusts
The source and pain may be long since gone
But you would never really know it
So long as you do feed fear’s flame
It will win, will be on top, and you’ll be stuck below it

But if, for just a moment, you allow yourself to breathe
To focus on the joy and all those so important things
You’ll find that fear is fickle, weak, devoid of fire’s life
Barely held together by aged and fraying strings

You can’t defeat it all at once
With symbolic gestures grand
But live your life with passion, bliss
It will slowly vanish in time’s sand

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