Tuesday, July 5, 2011


"For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver." --Psalm 66:10

"Nothing splendid was ever created in cold blood. Heat is required to forge anything. Every great accomplishment is the story of a flaming heart." --Arnold H. Glasgow

The past three months, I've kept lighting myself on fire. I'm burning up.

In the Central Valley of California, where I live, temperatures are spiking up to 107 degrees. But every cell of my body is aflame--an internal fire I've built with sticks and starter, in the pit of my belly, in the center of my heart. And I refuse to douse it in the usual ways--there's so many ways to quiet pain. But there's something being forged here, through the courses I traversed to be with X-man, and now the road away from him. (I've changed his name to X-man because of his great love for super heroes and because I spent all last night x-ing him out--deleting his numbers, burning letters & poems, dumping text messages.)

I do not yet know what I am making, but like anything made by metalsmiths, it's weighty and of value. It will be solid, not hollow.

There's this theory I've pieced together--every time I experience pain, I think it's going to get easier. "Oh, broken-heartedness? I know how to do that! Piece of cake!" Instead, my experience is that it gets harder, more debilitating, as if each time simply stacks onto the last time, eventually leading to this giant bonfire of pain. The problem is, in the past, I've used various methods to keep from staying on fire, extinguishing the feelings before all the firestarter burned away. So the first kindling of disappointment (say my father's fierce frown when I was three) continues to sit there, on the bottom of the pile, continues to fuel the burn I feel whenever someone profoundly disappoints me. In the past, I've used alcohol, food, movies, internet, spending, sex, thoughts of suicide, and etc. to distract and even keep the flames down.

But if I want to burn away all the wreckage of my past, I need to say yes to the fire within me. The anger and rage, the disappointment and hate. I need to pile it up and keep it lit, sheltering it from rain and wind, until all that's left is a pile of ashes that I eventually breathe out, and let loose to the soft breezes of July nights, watch the gray bits of what I used to want swirl up towards the stars, while what remains in my chest is a new heart, made of pure silver, and cooling into place, readying to last.

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