I wrote this little essay half my life ago, back in 1993 when I was 21 years old. I was then on the very beginning of my adult path, which I was manifesting by hitchhiking around the perimeter of Australia, starting and ending in Melbourne, where I’d been living as an exchange student in biology. I wrote this essay one early morning in my tent in Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, having hitched there from Western Australia. I’d already made it more than halfway around the continent. Meanwhile, my parents had just split up not a few weeks before, and I found this out via telephone. I knew that when I returned home to New York nothing in my life would ever be the same, myself included. I knew that if I were to survive and thrive that I would have to look deep inside myself and know who I was, what I stood for, and where I was going. And so I wrote, channeling the truth that was pouring out of me. This gem, as I see it in hindsight, was one of my first clear expressions of that.
I’ve been told, ‘Don’t burn your bridges.’
That is a statement of fear and insecurity of your actions, fear of both future events and the need to rely on others in the future, particularly others in powerful positions. Those in powerful positions are more often than not weak. I say, the weak always crumble in the presence of the strong of head and heart. I say, walk with fire at your heels and only the wooden bridges will burn. The stone will stand. If I am not afraid to blaze my path with fire, the fire of strength, the oaks and mountains will be left standing, the weeds and shrubs ashed. Strength is painful, and the weak run from it or try to put it to death, such that the strong man soon knows his friends, for only they are left standing when he has passed. And his friends will also be fiery of heart, for like attracts like, and therefore the path they burn together will only be stronger.
In the past and into the present, I have often felt like a flame in a weed patch, and all have tried to put me out. At more tender ages, my core was nearly cooled so that I might have joined the weed patch, but it was not to be. Now I feel the flame rising up within me, still tender and fearful of water but growing stronger daily, weekly, monthly. I hope one day to become the forest fire that levels dying forests and resets the clock to allow for fertile regrowth, that jumps mighty streams and rivers, that knows few boundaries, that rushes madly forward, unchecked, and dies in the process.
Give me the strength.