The Fire Dilemma

Written on: August 19, 2011

Fire is both necessary and dangerous at the same time. You need it to survive, but getting too close will harm you, and even when the burn heals, you will be left with a permanent scar.

Then why do people crave it? Why are moths designed to fly into fire to kill themselves? Surely they are attracted to the light and just wanted some warmth, but the cost of it is their lives? Humans are more intelligent than moths, so they don’t die from walking into a fire. Instead, they learn that fire is dangerous by letting themselves get burnt, and then the scar will remind them every time that fire burns. Alternatively, they can learn by letting others tell them that fire burns and can leave a scar on them. Yet, some others might not believe in what anyone say and insist on trying how fire feels like by testing it out with their own skin.

Light a match, and quickly run your fingers through the flame. It feels warm… it feels safe. But if you move your fingers slowly towards it, you will feel the warmth and eventually it will burn as you get closer. The heat originates from the core, so running your finger quickly through it will only let you feel the most superficial aspect of the flame – it is warm. As you get deeper into the core, to try to get more of that warmth, that is not the story anymore – it burns, physically and/or mentally (in that you remember the burning sensation so that you somehow feel it, even when you might not physically feel it).

When you are at homeostasis, and the outside temperature is nice and warm, a flame is so insignificant. It is just there, you don’t really need it. But as the outside temperature drops, a bit of warmth is all it takes to make everything better. Then of course if you are left out in the arctic, with absolutely nothing to keep you warm, you’d throw yourself at the flame without thinking what it can do and this is when you get burnt. You crave the warmth, and so you forget about being careful, and you dive for it just like the moths.

Fire is dangerous, but so many people underestimate its power. They play with fire, thinking that they can control it. But when things go out of hand, because it will when you don’t be careful with it, then everything gets set on fire, and that fire will become powerful enough to burn down a whole building. So a flame, something that seems so insignificant, can cause such a tragedy.

Why do people take it so lightly then? Some avoid it completely, which isn’t exactly the best way to deal with it because you will encounters flames at some point in your life. Some will test it out… but all the matches they light will only stay lit for a certain period of time. After the chemical runs out, it will go off, and you would have to light another match… not to mention that each match is made slightly differently.

Having enough friction to light up the match isn’t the easiest thing in the first place, but maintaining that warmth from the match is even harder. With a lit match, you’d have to transfer the flame to a candle, which can keep the flame for a longer period of time, for a longer period of warmth. In the story of the girl that sold matches in the middle of winter, the girl didn’t know this concept and so eventually she died when she ran out of matches.

Once you have a way to secure that flame, then the question becomes how you can not let it burn you, or let it remind you that it burns. Of course, if it is like a Burning Bush, it is ideal because you’d get the warmth and it is perfectly safe… except now the consequence for that is you’d have to go split the Red Sea in half. But since the Burning Bush is not existent, that is out of the question.

How to approach the flame but not let it burn you then? I wish I know. So until there is actually an answer, it is probably safer to stay away from flames, especially when you are not freezing to death in the middle of the arctic. Getting burnt isn’t exactly the greatest feeling, and even when the burn mark heals, you can still feel the burning sensation at times. In that case, why bother? Especially when people, nowadays, enjoy playing with fire more than actually needing the fire for warmth. There is already electricity to provide sources of warmth anyway, and those are perfectly safe… relatively speaking (since electricity can also cause house fires). But at least you have more control over it.

So then is fire all that necessary? Primitively, people are designed to rely on fire, and that is why we are attracted to fire. But it is so dangerous and scary at the same time. You get close and you get burnt, or you feel burnt; but if you stay away when you’re freezing, you’ll freeze to death. Then what? Finding the right distance is too hard… but it shouldn’t be necessary to keep a distance in the first place!

But of course, since this is the summer, there is no need to worry about lighting matches for fire at the moment. Besides, you’d never know when you get a spontaneous combustion that leaves you no choice but to deal with the flame!

(Continued in The Life of a Flame)

Published: August 19, 2011

One Response to The Fire Dilemma

  1. Pingback: New article up! | Mysteries of the Mind

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