Just like the embers in a fire pit that have all but fully extinguished. It’s not the same healthy burn in a fire that grows and crackles; it’s more of the way the last few pieces accept the fire is out, but still appreciate burning just a little bit longer.
You’re not exactly drawn to it in the same way you are when the fires roaring. There isn’t the same pull on your attention when the fires roaring, as when it is when it’s all but gone out completely. In a fire that rages new and has just ignited, the colors pull you in and the warmth draws you closer. But this isn’t that kind of burn, it’s just enough of a burn left to occasionally draw you back.
It’s those moments when there’s a pop loud enough to get your attention or when the stream of smoke picks back up just a little too strong, you find yourself overly aware of the coals to ensure they don’t erupt into a flame again.
I know watching the embers burn isn’t going to restart the fire, and is that ever really anyone’s intent when they watch the coals go out?
I don’t believe so.
I know I’ve always been mesmerized by the way the coals slowly die out. There’s a calm in getting lost in the soft reds and oranges as they turn to black; losing your thoughts in the quiet cracks and pops. There’s intrigue in how a fire can die out in front of your eyes. But, if you ask me, there is beauty in the way the last piece slowly extinguishes.
I mean, I could always quickly drown the charcoal pieces by throwing water onto the pit, but then that fire is over. Finished. Complete. No more.
Anyone who has ever started a fire knows when you don’t tend to it properly, it’ll die out. You have to be aware of your starting wood and the little pieces that ignite quickly to get the fire going. You’re aware of the placement of the wood in the pit and you know how easily certain pieces can burn compared to others. You also know there are outside forces which can enhance or inhibit the fire. When it’s windy you become aware of how easy the fire can get out of control. When there’s moisture in the air, you know how difficult it can be to keep the fire going.
Those aren’t the only factors though. When there are multiple people tending to a fire, you know too much attention can smother it, just as quickly as not tending to it adequately can. With one person adding wood and the other moving the burning pieces around, there’s a good chance you just might put the flames out.
Much like a relationship, a fire is a finicky object which evolves and progresses with the attention it’s given and the elements it’s surrounded with. There are the solid pieces you need to start a fire, the logical side. And there are the effects of the fire which entrance you, the emotional side. It really can turn into quite the balancing act between adding the right amount of wood when necessary in all the right spots, and being careful not to get too lost in the patterns the smoke makes that you forget what you’re doing.
Anyone who has been taken back by a fire reigniting, knows extinguishing it completely is the safest way to ensure it won’t reignite while you’re sleeping. Logically, that is the safest option; yet some of me isn’t fully ready for that and that’s okay.
I’m not awaiting the fire to relight; it has dulled far too long for that to happen.
So instead I think I’ll slowly let the embers burn down. It wasn’t a fire that destroyed anything or anyone, it just merely died out. Watching the last few coals glow and the embers slowly darken is where the beauty in this heartbreak really is. The final stream of smoke, or the few last happy memories are all that’s left in this fire, and I’m perfectly content with that.