I bound down the stairs a couple of steps at a time. Gravity faithfully helps me accumulate speed on the descent. As I land at the bottom, I see my mom tidying up the living room.
“It´s much colder down here compared to my room,” I say with a slight shiver.
“It is,” mom assents softly as she stacks some freshly folded laundry.
The wood stove sits cold and black a few feet away.
I glance at the floor and pause before finally announcing, “Maybe I should offer to start the fire.”Mom smiles a bit as she turns to go upstairs carrying some clothes. “That would be nice,” she replies with a hint of surprise and irony in her tone.
Newspaper and kindling. Tiny splinters in my hand from the fir bark. But I can´t get my previous statement out of my head. Something about the phrase calls me down a trail of thought. “Maybe I should offer to start the fire.”
If you think the statement betrays selfishness, reluctance, lack of enthusiasm, and laziness on my part, you couldn´t be more right. I want someone else to do it. My own words are an attempt to convince myself that I´m it. Audibly persuading myself to be a “hero” and keep the house warm for my mom. However, the same words condemn me and confront me with dark revelation.
That deeper revelation is that I avoid starting fires at all costs. It matters little what kind of fire—controversial fires that instigate change, revolutionary fires that inspire, compassionate fires that bring hope. I am instinctively drawn to these fires and admire their power. But when it comes to starting one, I wait. I almost ALWAYS wait. I save my energy. I shiver a bit inside. I stare out the window for a while and dream of warming my hands. I pray for God to send an expert fire-builder. I promise to help tend the fire once the flames are strong, as long as someone else starts the fire.
Striking the match becomes a very deliberate act. The blossom of flame grows and begins to blaze. Warmth emanates. I forget so often that the fire benefits me just as much as those around me. A desire fills me. Perhaps one day. Yes, perhaps in the near future, I will rush towards opportunity. I will start fires without thinking twice about waiting for someone else to do it. I will pick up some wood and strike a match without pausing first to consider whether "maybe I should offer to start the fire."