More about the fire

by Kim on November 19, 2013 · 36 comments

Europe by train: Day 4. Caussade, France.

It is my last day in the chateau. I’ve been padding around in my wool socks and sweatpants all afternoon, drinking coffee, perched in front of my computer doing whatever it is that it takes me all day to do.

On most days emails overrun my inbox. I get fifty by morning, at least, that require answering. A few of them are normally soul-bearing things, notes from people who are delicately balanced on the edge of their dream and searching desperately for reassurance.

I wish I could respond to these emails with a confirmation that it will all be okay. I wish I could say, just do it, it will work out. But I can’t say that. I don’t know their circumstances and, besides, there are no guarantees.

I’m folded into a chair at the dining table. It is lovely in this room, so open. Thick wooden beams form rafters in the ceiling. I take a break from composing emails to read The Invitation by the storyteller Oriah Mountain Dreamer, which has popped up in my newsfeed. I love this poem, this ode to life. It begins with these lines:

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

I read the poem once and then I read it again. Of all its beautiful stanzas this one stands out to me today:

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

And I realize that this is what I want to express in my emails: the importance of embracing the flame of possibility instead of turning your back on it. I want to say: If the risk of climbing into the fire is worth more to you than the comfort of lingering where it cannot touch you, come on in.

And when you decide to step inside the fire do not shrink back.

Do not shrink back even though the flames are crawling up your pant legs.

Do not shrink back though you are afraid that you might catch fire.

Do not shrink back although you fear that the heat and intensity of the flames will transform you into something unrecognizable.

Because that is exactly the point.

***

A heavy mist has rolled in over these hills in the French countryside and it looks like it will stay all day. Soon, I will change my clothes and go out for a run. Brian is in the kitchen making pizza. Hannah and Lee are on the couch doing work for their web design business. A fire is roaring in the wood stove.

I send my email, close my laptop, and shoot a silent prayer of gratitude up towards the sky. It’s a message of thanks for the irresistible flames that danced like a beckoning finger, calling me to its center: Come here, come here.

Tomorrow I will write from Paris.

Scenes from the chalet in France OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 ***

Life On Fire ebook coverI wrote a book about how to live your dreams. You can buy it on Amazon for $8.99.

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily November 19, 2013 at 9:18 am

The comfort of lingering and the fear of catching fire was what held us back so long from moving forward with our dreams. While we still have a month and a half before we take off into the unknown I have a feeling of relief already that I am meant to do this and that things will work out as they are meant to. Excellent post Kim!
Emily recently posted..Niagara-on-the-Lake

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Kim November 19, 2013 at 10:40 am

It’s what holds all of us back, I think. I know it’s what held me back for so long. Six weeks until your trip- how exciting!

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Monica November 19, 2013 at 9:30 am

LOVE this, Kim! It was such a joy to chat with you and Hannah today. HUGS from the Big Apple!
Monica recently posted..Disappear: A Journey In The Making

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Kim November 19, 2013 at 10:41 am

Yes, it was so great to chat with you as well Monica. I wish we could all do a big, French Thanksgiving together!

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Lauren November 19, 2013 at 9:32 am

Great post Kim! This is exactly what I needed to hear. I recently quit my job and moved and am trying to change my life and pursue my dreams and it’s scary. But this realization that changing my life is SUPPOSED to change me too is inspiring and a great reminder I made the right decision!

Lauren

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Kim November 19, 2013 at 10:42 am

It’s so scary… but, yes, you won’t walk out of it the same person you were. It’s an evolution :)

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Rhonda November 19, 2013 at 10:20 am

Oh Kim… I LOVE that poem, and re-read it often. I, too, am so moved by the line ” It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.” What a wonderful way to express to those trying to follow in your footsteps that what is important is the need to fight through the fire.
Rhonda recently posted..Savoring Santa Fe

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Kim November 19, 2013 at 10:45 am

Bah, yes, you say it so well: fighting through the fire. Because it’s not like the fire just goes away…

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Hannah November 19, 2013 at 11:20 am

Beautiful words Kim, as always. And I absolutely adore that poem, it fits your message so perfectly. It has been wonderful having you and Brian here at the chateau – I will miss working at the table with you (spurred on by your speed-typing!), sharing deep conversations, dreams for the future, and of course, lots of cheese and wine (and I think it also goes without saying that Lee will miss his playmate!). Maybe you should leave Brian here, and I’ll come to Paris with you instead ;)
Hannah recently posted..Six months in a chateau

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Kim November 20, 2013 at 7:06 am

Hello! We’ve made it to Paris and I miss you already. Thank you for showing us such a wonderful time.

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Lisa November 19, 2013 at 4:42 pm

I can feel the cool air while I am sitting on that bench –thank you for sharing!

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Kim November 20, 2013 at 7:07 am

Doesn’t that bench just ask to be sat in for awhile?

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TammyOnTheMove November 19, 2013 at 10:41 pm

The fear of catching fire is what holds most people back from realizing their dreams I think. I am glad you lost that fear and motivate so many people to follow their dreams too.
TammyOnTheMove recently posted..The day I ate a tarantula

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Kim November 20, 2013 at 7:07 am

Thanks Tammy.

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Robyn November 20, 2013 at 4:59 am

The first time I saw that poem was while making a resupply stop in a tiny town in NY during my 1998 Appalachian Trail thru-hike. My friend and I walked into a little bookstore and the poem was painted along the top of the walls, all around the room. I was entranced. I just slowly turned as I read the words: “I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing…” I remember the feeling as a deep and settled peace came over me. I was living my life in the purest way I could and was following my heart. That poem affirmed I was doing the right thing. Thanks for the reminder of that special time. Happily, I have many opportunities to continue to follow my heart, but that was a highlight.
And now Paris for you… well done. :)
Robyn
Robyn recently posted..Retrospective: Williamstown, MA and Providence, R.I.

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Kim November 20, 2013 at 7:08 am

I LOVE THIS STORY. Love it. And I especially love that you saw the poem for the first time on an AT thru-hike. Everyone who has every done a thru-hike of the AT is a hero of mine. It is one of my biggest dreams.

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Robyn November 21, 2013 at 3:30 am

Kim,
I have no doubt you will do an AT hike one of these days. I’ve seen your spirit in your blog and you would LOVE a thru-hike. I did it again in 2010-2011, in two parts. It is my passion and my place. I always long for it. It’s rugged, insane, hard, magical, and beautiful and you meet the people that also share those descriptions. Please let me know when go for it.
Robyn recently posted..Retrospective: Williamstown, MA and Providence, R.I.

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Kim November 21, 2013 at 10:20 am

I’ll do it! I know I’ll do it. I.AM.OBSESSED. I will definitely let you know when the time comes.

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Steve C November 20, 2013 at 7:48 am

Standing in the fire, you’ve realized the irony of having a successful Blog. If those fifty-something comments don’t get reply’s, your audience may soon shrink. We out here love the personal touch you give us. It’s a plus for us that you’ve combined travel with your life’s longing, writing. We both benefit!

May the fire not consume you but warm you for more posts! (He said selfishly) :)

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Kim November 21, 2013 at 12:29 am

Hehe, I love thinking about the fire warming but not consuming. I think that is the goal.

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Mark November 20, 2013 at 7:53 am

Wow….. Good post. I just hope people realize the work and effort that it takes to read/reply to 50-100 emails a day let alone composing blogs and trying to be positive and upbeat to all us neophyte and luddite travelers . Just want to say thanks.
I agree that stanza is thought provoking.

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Kim November 21, 2013 at 12:31 am

Thanks Mark :) And you should click that link and read the whole poem. It’s beautiful.

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Kristine November 20, 2013 at 8:28 am

What a great post Kim!! Reading this poem it reminds me of a speech written by Theodore Roosevelt and the importance of getting into the arena even when its so much easier (and safer) to stand on the sidelines. Have you read Brene Brown’s book “Dare Greatly?” It speaks of the importance of showing up and daring greatly, and being open to being vulnerable. Often those who are most critical of others don’t ever show up, and never face the fear of getting in the arena. I so look forward to reading your blog because you show up, and put yourself out there, and that is really the lesson of life, and of having the courage to share your thoughts and experiences!
Kristine recently posted..Safety Concerns for Women Travelers

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Kim November 21, 2013 at 12:33 am

I haven’t read that book yet but it is on my list. I think it’s so cool that she studies vulnerability. What a job! And I know of the quote you are referring too and think it is wonderful. Hey, your rickshaw run is getting closer isn’t it?! ;)

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Sarah Somewhere November 20, 2013 at 10:13 am

Beautiful. Today, my ‘fire’ is the ice blue sea surrounding a tiny Caribbean Island. I am pinching myself too, almost baffled by how I got here. But I do know. I think about all the leaps of faith and the fear and the tears and the panic of uncertainty, and I know. Thank you for putting into words so beautifully the journey into the fire. Enjoy Pari, how could you not?!
Sarah Somewhere recently posted..A landslide, a reunion and a Fandango

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Kim November 21, 2013 at 12:33 am

Yes… we know those fears and feelings so well don’t we?

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Lance | Trips By Lance November 20, 2013 at 11:28 am

That first line caught my attention: “It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.” I hate that about being a “grown up.” When we meet new people the conversation always starts about what our job is. Yes, some of us truly are passionate about our work, and that’s great. I love my job, but it’s not the passion in my life that I want to tell a stranger. And I’d love to play table tennis in that setting. Looks perfect.
Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted..Red Cat House: A Haven in the Heart of Taos

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Kim November 21, 2013 at 12:34 am

Yes, I hate that too! Like, who cares?!?! It should not be the thing that defines us.

P.S. they literally played table tennis for hours every day.

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Dustin@WeGoRTW November 20, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Really enjoying the pics (ping pong, bench, framed window) in these last few posts, newly inspired!?!
Dustin@WeGoRTW recently posted..Cables Down

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Kim November 21, 2013 at 12:38 am

Maybe a little… ;)

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Renee November 21, 2013 at 7:58 am

Lovely post! I love that poem, too. I came across it a few months ago, and then again a few days ago, and now again here. The universe is trying to tell me something, lol. Happy travels!

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Kim November 21, 2013 at 10:20 am

Yes, it’s definitely a sign. Make sure to listen :)

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Karyn @ Journey Out Of Plastic November 25, 2013 at 2:15 am

I needed to read this – we have just told my family of our travel dreams and have already started receiving the speeches about how it’s so much wiser to just “get into the housing market as soon as possible” instead…I need to be reminded about the fire when the naysayers naysay. :)
Karyn @ Journey Out Of Plastic recently posted..Quick Tips

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Kim November 26, 2013 at 12:30 am

Yes, yes, yes. Don’t forget the fire. I heard the same speeches so you are definitely not alone.

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