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Before You Can Begin Sifting

Through The Ashes

March 19, 2015

It’s quiet. Not the “too quiet” that leads up to some horrifically dramatic event, just regular quiet. The familiar sounds of traffic from a distant road, annoyingly, needlessly loud neighbors or equally annoyingly, needlessly loud dogs barking, are absent. It’s that rare high definition, stereophonic, surround soundlessness. The only noises penetrating this tranquility are the subtle, somewhat soothing, crackling and occasion pop of the fire before you.

It is not a campfire. It’s not like you have any time for outdoor recreation. Nor is it a bonfire. You’ve nothing to celebrate, you’re not clearing a plot of land and you certainly aren’t burning bones. As the original definition of that type of fire implies...but you may dig some up. No, this particular fire, which started as a chore of burning receipts or personal papers, has become something more. Your primitive nature was enticed by that initial spark. So you’ve scurried about, gathering fallen branches and random handfuls of sticks and twigs, to feed the hungry flames. During that time of playing hunter/gatherer the evening has transcended into night. The darkness that enshrouds you, pressing in from all sides, is held at bay by the fire. It pushes back against the darkness defining its parameters in a domelike fashion. Instincts, older than time, draw you closer to the light, nearer to its warmth.

You sit silently, slowly feeding your small fuel supply into the flickering flames. Watching the cinders’ shadows dance in the darkness, feeling the gentle warmth as heat rises from the smoldering ashes. There is entertainment here of a fashion that has yet to be duplicated by technology or turned into an easily accessible app for your smart phone. Fire was our first technology yet you can’t start one with our latest. But try dropping that phone into the fire. No you can’t crush candy or check the status of your face in a fire’s febrile flames. But if you mind hasn’t been devoured by the ideology that you constantly need a little glowing screen before you eyes it can offer far more.

Placing the primitive draw aside. Forgetting the challenge presented by something you must constantly tend to keep alive and can’t just plug in and recharge. Eliminating the practical applications of warmth and light. What do you have? You and the fire. Two diverse elemental forces that are natural enemies and yet to some degree dependent upon one another. Co-existing together in the night. Conspiring against the darkness. Sharing secrets of thoughts, plans and dreams that drift through the mind’s eye as smoke swirls and burning embers ride the rising thermal waves towards the heavens.

“Umm, excuse me Mr. Chainsawman. Sorry to interrupt what is obviously a poetic gesture. But what are we talking about here? Are we the readers supposed to perceive this as a glimpse into reality? Are we literally talking about building, maintaining and sitting by an actual fire? Or is this all metaphorical? And what does any of this have to do with the title?”

Whether it is an actual fire or a metaphorical one is entirely up to you. In this particular instance either serves the same purpose. As for the title. “Sifting through the ashes” is metaphorically what you do following any disaster whether it be an actual disaster or a disastrous event in your life. You sift through to see what’s left, what survived and what can be salvaged. But before you begin the search perhaps it is best to know the origins of the source. Or put more simply, to know why your sifting in the first places. Yes, you can always shift through the ashes but before you do so there had to be a fire.

Next week: I have no idea what it’ll be but we’ll try to swim in the shallower end of the pool.

Questions, comments and column ideas are welcome via through the Focus, or just E-mail me at or you can FRIEND me on Facebook under Saw’s Brood!

Hope to hear from ya, until then try and stay focused. See ya!




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