LIFE BONFIRE: Sharing the Experience from Another Perspective

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was my final blog post on “Fire and Motion.” I thought it was worth reposting here. This post was my final follow-up to my “Life Bonfire” experiment.

– – –

This might be the most narcissistic realization. Of. My. Life.

I waited until this post – my swan song on “Fire and Motion” – to allow someone else write and/or share on my blog. How egotistical and self-centered am I?

For the last four years – 162 blog posts – I have been the lone contributor to this hedonistic purging of words, thoughts, ideas and bullsh. It’s so disappointing and gross to think about.

What was possibly going through my head? “I have the laptop and you’ll listen to every damn word I say?”

Well, the vanity stops here…

Even though this is my final post on “Fire and Motion,” I’ve asked three other people to write it. These three people (pictured) were an integral part my “Life Bonfire,” and I begged them to share their thoughts and feelings about that night. They obliged.

The reason why I’m kicking myself about not having a “guest blogger” before this – these accounts are AWESOME! TK and our friends, Dave and Kimbra, do an amazing job of capturing the essence of that night around the fire. I love how each one of them describes the exact same event in their own wonderfully great way.

I can’t stress enough how grateful I am to each one of them for playing a role in this amazing journey.

Sure, we were burning my “crap,” but that was just the catalyst. Kimbra put it best in her narrative: “…it was as if the embers landed between us and sparked conversations that could not have been created any other way.”

– – –

You’ve Got to Keep the Fire Burning

by Tanya Myers (a.k.a. TK)

Even though Drew had written blog posts, and often mentioned his “burn box,” I did not realize how heavily it had weighed on him until the fire was roaring and the first conversation started. I saw a seriousness come over Drew as he began to take things out of the box and put them in the fire.

One of first things that he pulled out of the box were the many, many brochures from his failed business (e-Partners in Giving). There was real sadness in me as he set them on the fire. The words in my head were frantic…

”Wait, that dream can’t be over…not yet!”

“We can give it one more shot!”

I began to tear up a little as Drew kept adding more brochures to the fire. The flames even started to fizzle out, because the brochures were literally smothering the fire.

As I started to write this recap, I realized those brochures were smothering us too.

The many boxes that sat at the back of the garage whispered to us every time we were in there: “psst…failed business…psst…broken dreams.”

As Dave and I worked really hard to keep the fire going, Drew – ever the coach –told us how to do it….how to keep it burning. And that is really a metaphor for life. We have to get rid of the crap to keep the fire burning. And sometimes we need the help of friends and family to keep it alive.

Now I can walk in the garage and listen to other things that speak to me: upholstery projects to be finished, bikes that need riding, things to be donated or pitched. (Trust me, my garage is not somewhere you want to enter in the dark – or the daylight for that matter.)

For me, the best part of the evening was the conversation and being with dear friends. Someone would make a point, and then the others would think about it and apply it to their own lives. There were many moments of peaceful silence as we all contemplated our emotions and took a deeper look at what we were hanging onto and why. We were able to just sit and think about life, instead of being too busy living it.

The memories of this evening will stay with me for a while, and if not, we took a few photos…something to hold onto so we won’t forget. (Of course!)

– – –

Looking At the Fire From the Ashes

by Dave Quinn

Drew’s “Life Bonfire” proved to be much more intriguing than I thought it would be. I really figured I would just be there to cheer him on and enjoy a free weekend on the Brazos River with my family. But as we prepared for the bonfire, I felt myself slipping into a ruminating state. The simple act of talking about our pasts allowed my memories from long ago to crawl out into the open.

As Drew began to toss various items into the fire, and our discussion began in earnest, I was struck by an interesting thought: Just seven months ago, I had witnessed thousands of people lose everything they owned in a devastating fire. Here, Drew was freely tossing his past into the flames. He had a chance to carefully select, say goodbye and come to grips with letting go of his stuff.

Those who lose their belongings in a disaster are not given this kind of opportunity – to pick and choose between mementos to save and crap to get rid of.

I know ceremoniously tossing my “precious keepsakes” into a bonfire is a better option, because having them taken by a natural disaster would be a depraved act of thievery. But how many people spend a lifetime boxing up and storing random items from their past? (Only to have their children or grandchildren sort through it at the worst possible time in their lives.) People, who are unwilling to let go of their life “road-markers,” force their family to make decisions they’re too afraid or too lazy to make themselves.

While I would never suggest losing everything in a fire is a great way to reduce clutter, having everything you think is important ripped from you does force you to refocus on the truly important things in your life – family and friends. I appreciate Drew allowing us to be a part of his interesting adventure. I look forward to bonfire part deux. My box of “to burn’” is already beginning.

– – –

Getting Down to Heart of the Matter

by Kimbra Quinn

As we gathered around the fire to say goodbye to Drew’s treasures, I felt like we should sing a round of “Deep in the Heart of Texas.”

It was the perfect Texas night – an incredible night sky, the Brazos River meandering its way through the countryside and century old oak trees, with twisted branches, that left plenty of room for the stories that they had witnessed. The perfect setting only served as the backdrop for the true perfection of the night.

As Drew tossed each of his prized processions into the fire, it was as if the embers landed between us and sparked conversations that could not have been created any other way. We talked about the moments in life that have brought us to this point. We talked about past loves, life events, hopes and dreams. We talked about life’s experiences, our thoughts and feelings. We talked about the people.

Somehow, Drew’s bonfire harnessed our collective pasts and gave us a moment in time. It branded the experience and our friendship forever in my heart. I guess I could have scooped up some of the ashes as a reminder, but that would have been contrary to the point, right? After all, the ashes would not have told my children how blessed I felt to share in Drew’s history, his life. That will be up to me to do as I teach them the importance creating memories and sharing our lives with others.

That night, I thought about my treasures, and I thought about the things that I have gotten rid of over the years – like the boxes of home decorating magazines from days of wanting to be an interior designer. I thought about the cigar box of full of letters from my high school boyfriend and binder after binder of research papers from graduate school. All part of my story, but not necessary to have in my hand to remember how they changed my life.

I am the sum of those experiences. Therefore, when I am no longer on this earth, my hopes, dreams, values, morals, and my very being will live on through my children and those I love because I have invested in their lives. They won’t need a token to remember how I made them feel.

I can’t wait to have a “Life Bonfire!” I think it will be liberating. (A little like what I imagine burning a bra might feel like!) It will be more than burning things, but creating an opportunity for others to share in my life. It will create an experience that seals the meaning of friendship into our soul. And, so much more fun than throwing things in the trash!

Thanks, Drew! I am honored to have been a part of your life bonfire not only from “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” but also from way down deep in my heart!

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