Don’t Be Afraid to Burn Your Bridges

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 positiodaniel australia 1993ns 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.

19 thoughts on “Don’t Be Afraid to Burn Your Bridges

  1. Hi Daniel. Wonderful website! I’m probably going overseas next year and as I’m studying Mental health thought it would be ideal to do a short course in Open Dialogue in Finland/Sweden. Can you recommend any? I only speak English and am not a Psychologist/Psychiatrist, although I was reading about Hal and Sidra Stone’s Voice Dialogue work 20 years ago, when I was a wee 30 year old! Warm regards
    Melbourne, Australia

  2. Hello Mr. Daniel this has been a tough time for me we have a broken mental health system in Washington state were I and others cant get there needs met a very broken system were people cant get there needs met when you are on social security disability as I am it is hard for me because I don’t have money for a lot of things and just get by each month but it is very hard I am glad that mental health boarding has been outlawed in Washington state but I still think that it will happen because there are not enough mental health beds for people and mental institutions are not the right place for people in need people need caring people to help them to get there needs met I am having a really hard time in getting my needs met in this broken mental health system. keep up the good work


  3. Dear Daniel. In light of my own experiences with recovery, I think you’re spot on.
    I’ve jumped out of my comfort and am learning a lot about recovering from extreme childhood trauma and addictions to cover that up. I’m not done with it yet, but these posts are about the process I’ve been going through so far and what I’ve learned about recovering during this process. Like you talked about, I’m having to become very vulnerable during this process toward authenticity and realness.

  4. Hi Daniel,

    Cool stuff! I was also in OZ when I was 21. came back half a year after my 22. birthday. What a great time I had there. Also was most of the time in WA and also camped in kakadu np.
    Visit me when you are in Germany.
    You have my email.

    All the best,

  5. Hi Daniel,

    I love the flame you bring to this cooler, conceptual space we label “mind,” and note that this blog coincides with a “hot/flaming” blog post on MIA, your passionate “Ode to Biological Psychiatry.” Hopefully those people questioning your piece as a dialogue crusher, may come to a sense of hindsight, in the paradox of the dialogue generated by a more passionate use of language, compared to the dispassionate language of academia. “Does being “nice” simply maintain the status-quo?”

    The Buddhist conception of hindsight, is perhaps summed up best in the phrase “words do not describe reality, only experience shows us true face.” Perhaps your wild truth transformations, are an experiential exploration of eternal truth, bound in the getting of wisdom, and a growing sense of the eternal flame?

    Best wishes from downunder,


  6. Beautiful! It’s been a pleasure to witness your cleansing fire. I look forward to the next time we touch flames,

  7. nice daniel – thanks for posting that – i agree with this part in particular… “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.”btw i think u have a typo here….Those in powerful positions are more often that not weak– S

    ps u continue to inspire me. i am doing more of what really satisfies me now. started giving talks in schools about teen suicide.

  8. This shows you are fulfilling your destiny. The fire was always in you.

    I love the vintage VB in your hand. Makes me feel nostalgic.

    • haha — you noticed the VB. yes…..that was me from 21 years ago. i was pretty wild back then……in a different way than i am now….though underneath it essentially the same. greetings petra! daniel

  9. Hi Daniel!
    I appreciate your sharing and I feel inspired and re-awakened by your words, simple as though the might appear. Your videos on youtube were recommended to me by a psychoterapist and those along with your visit to The Voluntary Life podcast 143 (on your book Breaking From Your Parents) I really found strengthening and uplifting.

    Thanks a lot!

    Cheers from Sweden

    • hi robert — cool — thanks! i’ll actually probably be in sweden in a few weeks, coming via norway. probably gothenbug. greetings!! daniel

      • Oh that’s cool, celebrating midsummer here are you? I actually live in Gothenburg for the moment but will be moving to the countryside in a few weeks.

        Are you planning to make any public appearances or such? Woul be a bummer to miss out!


        • i’m not sure exactly what i’m doing in sweden. i’m assuming i will be going there, though. gothenburg is my home in sweden! i love the swedish countryside so much more than the city, though………… so many beautiful places. i tried to capture some of it in my movie healing homes….which now is online with swedish subtitles too!!!! 🙂 greetings, daniel

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