Fire - the source of heat and light. The breathtaking beauty as it flickers and wriggles, as it crackles and pops. My father was obsessed. I remember sitting around our bonfire, protected by only the thin, metal barrel. We would stay up all night feeding the flame and staring at the crimson embers. It pulled us deeper and deeper into a trance. We started the night with thick woolly hats and coats, but by the end of the night we were always stripped down to a thin t-shirt and jeans. The fire had warmed us inside. Though we were silent, we seemed to bond as I leaned my heavy head on his warm, soft shoulder. It was almost as if the fire was connecting our very beings.
11:00pm. It's dark and cold. The fog has crept into our haven of warmth and the flame is now blurred by a thick haze. We're shivering, 11 years later and I still have never felt the warmth of a fire the way I did resting on the shoulder of my father. These kids just don't ... feel it. It's sad really, dads today just don't have the time or the willingness to care about their children. They will never experience the fatherly love of their hug, the warmth of their attentive ear. Instead, they're stuck with me: a scout leader trying to recreate his time as a child. You just can't really. Once you hit twenty, the responsibility of moving out and getting a job and passing your driving test and owning a house and the stress that comes with it all sets in. You are thrust into the adult world, where you will stay forever.
All of the kids have given up staying awake; they have been consumed by the cold and spat out into their sleeping bags. I, however, don't feel the cold. The fire seems to warm me up more. Am I used to it? Is my body good at taking advantage of the warm grasp of the blaze? I prefer to think of it as more of a symbiosis - I give it somewhere to reside in my heart and it warms me from the inside out.
So I just sit there, pondering the universe. I think, using the log fire as fuel for my meditation. I think about my friends. I think about my family. I think about these kids some more. And then I stop, and I think about death. I go over my potential demise in vulgar detail, letting myself become more and more discontented with my existence. I hate where I am with my life and the meaning of life wanders further and further out of my reach. All of a sudden, I look death in the eye. I can picture his ugly face.
And then I open my eyes, and I see the flame. I feel myself calming down. I feel the fire working. The meaning of life is, like me, drawn to the the flame.