What's in the gallery?

We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.

 

on fire

Back in eighth grade, a kid in my class set the school on fire
because that was how you expressed helpless rage in the 80s,
with fire.

It seems old fashioned now, another time,
before school shootings even existed in our collective consciousness,
before they became part of How Things Are.

No one was hurt,
the building, made as it was of cinder blocks and steel, was unharmed,
school was closed for a couple days
and I haven’t thought about it since
until now.

Invitations

GET OVER HERE, WE HAVE A SCOOP!
That’s what Marlene said when I picked up the phone,
she was the teacher in charge of the school newspaper and
also, I realize now, in charge of keeping me safe,
my personal guardian angel, self-appointed.

She always knew, seemingly by magic, when gym class would involve dodge ball
or some other game invented by bullies for bullying
and she would rescue me.

The gym teacher would scowl and tell me to go,
and I would exhale in relief,
realizing Marlene had conjured another “important” mystery that
urgently needed investigating,
and I see in retrospect many things that I could not see before,
and which did not even have names.

for example, the gym teacher believed turning a blind eye to cruelty would make weaker kids stronger (he was wrong, and also a bully), and I thought my best friend E and I had been named editors of the newspaper because of editing skill, but Marlene was an angel, and the newspaper was a way to offer us sanctuary, and I am thankful, and oh the invisible magic beans of privilege, those that worked so hard in our favor and those we could have used more of…

Without the why

Anyway, Marlene called me
and this is how E and I ended up wandering the smoky halls
of an empty school, accompanied by fire fighters, men, in yellow,
surveying the damage.

We wrote a front-page full-page article with the headline “FIRE!”,
wherein we compiled the uninteresting and inconsequential details of
where the fire originated and how much damage was done,
with quotes from the fire fighters.

We covered the who/where/what/how,
though not the why,
and there is another mystery
why we did not go near the why,
maybe because it seemed too obvious?

Reasons

My mother said that boy must have had “problems”,
I think all the grownups were very bewildered
by the question of WHO WOULD DO SUCH A THING
but we didn’t need to ask why,
who didn’t want to set that place on fire,
and he had more reason than any of us.

I know why I never set the school on fire
other than in the realm of fantasy
over and over again
blowing it up on repeat

For example

absolutely no idea how to go about doing it
consequences
really just not brave enough
numb and defeated, etc.

But still

But still, setting that school on fire seemed to me
a very logical response
to being in that school.

Invisible things

The kid who set the school on fire didn’t have a Marlene
to rescue him over and over again with well-timed notes,
deus ex machina.

And I never got made fun of for having clothes that came from Kmart,
or the wrong shoes for gym,
the prejudice and classism that made him a target
did not touch me.

I remember feeling terrified all the time,
and I remember wanting to disappear
so the scary things would stop happening
but his approach actually makes more sense than my wish:
make the place where the scary things happen disappear.

The wrong question

Adults experienced other things
parental emotions which made no sense to me at the time —
fear, anger, worry, and, most of all, confusion
why would this happen
how could this happen
why would someone do this.

But we felt thrill and admiration
he did it he did it he did it he did it
he set it all on fire.

There was no way to explain to them
that this was the wrong question, and
adults being adults couldn’t understand.

if they could, they *never* would have let you go there
they wouldn’t have dreamed of asking how was your day,
and they also would have been able to interpret the requisite shrug-response:
well unfortunately no one burned it down today
so gotta go back tomorrow, and ugh, fuck everything…

Fire

We built an enormous fire in the Utah desert this weekend
and sat around it telling stories
or, really, listening to stories,
drinking whiskey under the stars,
four of us,
from different places and times.

This is what we are meant to do,
said the cowboy, who was very drunk
and suddenly enthusiastic about everything
instead of not caring about anything.

He is right, there is something wonderfully human
about fire and stories,
flames and embers, under the stars.

Fiery

I have been thinking a lot about Operation Turning Fiery
aka the various missions related to being forty,
and how my life wishes have basically distilled themselves:

Breathe, be outside as much as possible,
be a Total Fucking Badass (TFB)*
and take exquisite care of myself
with love.

* when I can, to the extent that I can, in whatever ways I can, given limitations etc

I find myself wanting to burn things,
to go back and rescue past versions of me,
to be my own angel Marlene of miracles,
to set more things on fire.

A path of fire

The man at the supermarket steps too close to me,
and I move away, instinctively, automatically,
brandishing a red pepper and not sure how to use it,
but in my mind I stand my ground and say BACK OFF, CREEP
RESPECT THE PERIMETER
THIS IS MY SPACE
and then I set the whole produce aisle on fire with my mind
just so he knows who it is that he is not to fuck with
(me).

A man in a white Ford pickup with no license plate on the front
is watching me as I walk past warily
with a tote bag of groceries in each hand,
everything about him and how he
looks at me creeps me out
and I set his truck on fire too.

In my mind I breathe fire,
I call it into being,
leaving fiery paths in my wake,
sending meteors through space and time
and memory.

Middle-aged white men, all day, every day,
they look at me and I set their world on fire.

Compass

Here is my compass of Turning Fiery
aka being a total badass who is forty
and could definitely set things on fire with her mind
but doesn’t even need to.

North I AM FIERCE
Northeast I AM FEARLESS
East I AM POWERFUL
Southeast I AM STRIKING
South I AM OF THE EARTH
Southwest I GLOW
West I AM WILD
Northwest I DELIGHT IN LIFE

And all possible combinations and forms, may these now be my superpowers forever

Fierce and fearless, powerful and striking,
grounded and glowing, wild delight in life

Delighting in life, wildly glowing,
from the earth I strike, powerful and fearless.

I am fierce in my power, fearless in my striking,
wild and of the earth, glowing aliveness and delight

Fiercely of the earth, fearlessly glowing,
Powerful and wild, striking and delighted

How do I want to use fire?

Powerfully, and in my fiery fierce fearlessness,
and also for joy and pleasure, under the stars,
letting it reflect everything that needs reflecting,
letting it warm me, free me, illuminate desire.

As a door: look, I walked through [experience x] and
I AM STILL HERE.

With presence and intention,
let this burn away all that is done,
sage smoke
in front of me above me
behind me below me and in all directions
writing words in the air with incense
and powerful knowing
that whatever wants saying
needs room to be said.

How do I want to use fire?

Fire in my editing
(battlecry: burn it all down!)
goodbye, six hundred more words,
and fire in my writing
whatever wants to be told or named,
I’m listening,
hello, resurfacing stories,
I will sit by your fire
and learn

Fire in my dance
and on the pole
and through the ground
and in my burning desire to learn more
(and more) (and more) (and more)
and fire in a shared moment of play.

Fire in firing myself
from jobs that are not my job
(possibly most jobs)
and a path of fire to create openings
where none were before.

Is there anything else in this wish-vision?

Let’s burn it all down and find out,
burning to reveal essence,
undoing structures and assumptions,
willing to find out what wants to come next.

Invitation: come play with me…

You are invited to share this post and to share many !!!!!! about what is here,

Or share appreciation or anything sparked for you while reading…

You can also check in, or deposit wishes, gwishes, superpowers, qualities, ingredients, possibly in code.

Safe space for creative exploration asks us to let go of care-taking and advice-giving.

Everyone belongs. We let people have their own experience. We’re supportive and welcoming. We lovingly refrain from giving advice.

And of course it’s always okay to comment under a made-up name, whether for play and delight, or in the interest of Safety First.

Nothing we say is ever late because whenever we write words is the right time for those words.

We remember that people vary and my process doesn’t have to be yours, and this is a good thing.

Here’s how we meet each other: with great kindness and appreciation and awe, whispering (and sometimes shouting) oh, wow what beautiful wishes!

19 Responses to on fire

  1. suzie says:

    thank you thank you thank you.

  2. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi
    says:

    In my fiery editing, I moved something out to move it around, and then never put it back, and now I can’t find it, I wanted to say that I don’t know what happened to the boy, but I imagine a depressingly awful series of events, from being suspended from school to whatever came next, and I hope he’s okay and I also find that very unlikely. I did not mean to move him out of the story, and I do not know what his motivation was and [heart of hopefulness]

  3. Kathleen Avins
    Twitter: spiralsongkat
    says:

    *inhale*

    *exhale*

    Wow.

    * <3 *

  4. Sue T says:

    <3 <3 <3
    Must re-read this, many times.
    Fires may be needed right about now!

  5. My friend Lisa Adams taught me (many things! – including:) that when there is nothing else to say, when no real words could actually be enough, when you want to just express care and love and let someone know that you are there, you can always just reply with xoxoxo.

    Havi: xoxoxo

  6. Laura says:

    This post makes me think that instead of “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” how powerful it would be to write the song, “We Did Start The Fire, It Deserved To Burn, And We’d Do It Again.”

  7. SarahL says:

    <3 <3 <3
    I am reminded of another story: in some environments, fire is a necessary process in the life cycle of the landscape, as much a part of the cycle as rain, or sun, or soil. Fire clears away the old (dead plants, last year's growth, weeds) AND fire frees some seeds from their otherwise impenetrable hulls. Without fire, the landscape chokes and is overrun. After fire, the landscape is reborn.

  8. Denise says:

    Holy sh!t this is amazing. I am also turning fiery very soon, though I think maybe I have actually been turning fiery for a while now. I love the idea of setting afire the worlds of those who seem to delight in attempting to violate my boundaries. Like little Drew Barrymore in the movie Firestarter! (I mean, sort of like that.)

  9. Puck says:

    !!!!!

    <3 <3 <3

    o o o

    thank you so much for this

  10. Kathleen Jowitt
    Twitter: KathleenJowitt
    says:

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Fire!

    (recently I have been talking a lot about burning things to the ground and starting again, and who knows what I mean beyond the iPads?0

  11. Pqw-orange
    Twitter: fiadhiglas
    says:

    I haven’t been able to access your blog via my phone for a week, so I’m just seeing this now. For that week, though, I wondered if you’d pulled the plug on this site, and were just out in the wilds of Utah living your kickass life.

    Burning bridges, flagrant forest fires, torrential flames have been go-to metaphors for me for my whole adult life. I didn’t know any firebugs though, and I wasn’t one myself. Now I’m consumed with the lovely, cleansing mental image of someone burning down the schools child-me was miserably trapped in.

    • Havi Brooks
      Twitter: havi
      says:

      It was a server problem! I am still in the wilds of Utah setting things on fire! But right now mostly setting on fire how expensive it is to deal with server stuff :)

      Here’s to lovely cleansing release and retroactive salvation for smaller versions of us. <3

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