by Marie Chokote

Fire I wrote down this title not too long ago and closed the page. I knew what I wanted to write about but for some reasons wasn't able to translate my thoughts into words at the time. A few days later as I was watching the news I heard about the wild fire in Colorado. I listened to the details of the report and I have to say my heart went out to those affected by the disaster. One thing in particular caught my attention: the conservation experts' take on the incident, as they talked about the consequences of fires on nature and their balancing effects on the ecosystem. "Are they really talking about positive effects here?" I asked myself. Yes they were. "How can something good come from such a bad situation, with homes destroyed by raging blazes, residents forced to flee their homes, firefighters risking their lives and fighting relentlessly to put out these blazing flames? So let me ask you again Mr Scientist: are you really telling me that the fire is not completely such a bad thing??" I pondered.

I am sure that if I was to ask you what words first come to mind at the mention of the word 'fire', the list will go something like: burn, bad smells, fear … how about renewal? No, there has to be a mistake right? Renewal sounds like something good, a positive process.

Some research led me to discover that contrary to what I had thought in the past, forest fires contribute to the health of forests. Amongst all the big old trees in the woods, debris made up of leaves, small branches and all sort of things constantly pile up on forest floor. Small natural fires are needed to consume them. Conservation experts suggest that these kinds of fires should not be put out. If that natural process does not occur, or if it is stopped, the debris that continues to accumulate makes the forest more susceptible to larger, more destructive fires that are more difficult to control. 

I am not giving an ecology crash course here, but I believe we can learn from just about anything that happens around us. In the same way in our lives, we tend to accumlate our own kind of debris, deadwood that accumulates over the years. It could be [bad] habits, relationships that pull us down, complacency, wrong choices, the inability to say 'no' when necessary …. the list goes on. I am sure as you are reading this, you can pinpoint a few of these in your own life – personal, professional, or otherwise.
At some point, in order to move forward, to achieve our dreams, to succeed, we need some kind of Renewal cleansing! Just like forests need fires to cleanse them from decay and stagnation.We need to get rid of those deadwoods, and layers of debris … that are usually hard to get rid off. It requires discipline, making hard choices, painful decisions sometimes but the process at the end yields beautiful things, a life more balanced, a sound mind and the ability and attitude necessary to move forward. 

Here is something else that I learned about forest fires: certain trees like the Jack pine REQUIRE a blaze to crack their seeds open to begin the process of rebirth; in other words, they need fire to reproduce. In the middle of the devastation caused by fire, those seeds actually burst out with new life! Think about that : Do you desire to be more productive? Do you want to "reproduce"? To inspire and breath life around you? If the answer is yes, if you are at a point in life ( any aspect of your life) where you feel stuck, as though you are not going anywhere, or you are not moving forward, it might be time to take a hard and honest look to determine where the fire needs to burn away the "deadwood".


Also by Marie Chokote on blog Face2Face:

What's Your Legacy Going to be?

"This Time For Africa" – A Time to Shine

The Importance of Thank You – A Little Girl's Prayer


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