There's a book of poems by one of my favorite poets, Charles Bukowski, entitled "What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire." Lately, and when I say "lately" it encompasses the past three years, the flames curled around me in varying degrees.
Flames so close I thought about life on the other side, you know, the life most everyone fears because it's so unknown. My struggle went up and down; therapy sessions three times a month followed by months of none, a virtual see-saw seeking answers.
And throughout I wondered how much worse life would become, and every time I wondered, life became worse. The fire swept around me, smoke smothering taking my oxygen and making me gasp.
"Where's the lesson in this?" I asked myself perpetually. And then I picked up Bukowski's book from the shelf and stared at the title. It made me smile, the lesson smacking me in the face with Dr. Phil's ah-ha moment.
Fire happens in life. No way around it. It creeps up in subtle sparks, and then bursts into the forest encompassing wilderness, no Smoky nearby with shovel and bucket in hand.
I walked through it, took the burn and embraced the lesson thereafter. I came out on the other side a bit singed, but I endured. Strength increased as well as resolve, ready for the next licking flames.
The more I feel the burn, the more I come out filled with renewed strength. Fear held me back; perseverance severed the chains.
In the end, or perhaps another beginning, I am whole, stronger and overwhelmed with confidence that when the next fire comes, and I know it will, I'll enter it knowing that I do it so well.