Metaphor. I love metaphor.
Matches. I just posted one about matches. Matches and pain.
This one isn’t about pain. Not at all. It’s about perfection. This one is about the fire that burns inside each of us. Well, maybe there’s a little pain. It’s the pain you feel in your eyes as the sun rises beyond the horizon, growing brighter and brighter. But it’s a good pain, a pain I need to learn to feel. Not endure. Feel. It’s a pain like the ice cube’s first touch on overheated flesh, which is a funny pain to be talking about when the object of your metaphor is a match.
What got me going on matches and internal flames was this quote a friend posted a few days ago on Facebook.
We’re all born with a box of matches inside us. We can’t light them by ourselves. They can be lit from a melody, a sound, a caress, our lover’s breath, anything that pulls the trigger and sets off one of the matches. Every person has to discover what will pull the trigger and enable him to live. Because it is the explosive flare of the match that feeds our souls.
If there’s nothing to trigger the explosion, our box of matches becomes damp, and then we will never be able to light any of them. Of course it is important to light the matches one at a time, because if an intense burst of emotion were to ignite them all at once, they would produce such a strong brilliance, that before our eyes there would appear a tunnel of such radiance, showing us the path that we forgot at birth, the same path that calls us back to our divine origins.
~Laura Esquivel (Author of Water For Chocolate)
I like the poetry of this, how Esquivel captures the vivid sense of passionate fire we feel whenever we do something that touches our spirit, opens ourself to our soul. Yet… it seems to me inverted. What if, rather than being ignited by the experiences that reach into our soul, these experiences are pulling aside the veil obscuring our true nature? What if, rather than a box of unlit matches that someone or something else must ignite…
There is but one match within you. An eternal flame, it already burned at the beginning of time. This match cannot be blown out or snuffed. Its fire is the source of unlimited warmth and light and the source of all insight and illumination. From it’s flaming tendrils issue the shiver you feel from a lover’s caress — that is, indeed, where a lover touches you, not on the surface but deep inside, where the flame burns. From the heat of this fire are condensed the tears that run down your cheek in the moments of apprehending beautiful perfection. The match’s energy powers the urge to dance when melody and rhythm collide in transcendant waves.
We shield the light of this inner essence from our being with our consciousness, with our ego, with the chatter in our mind, by dissociating our body from our spirit. The internal sun is always shining, it is only our being that turns away from it, like the surface of the earth, so it seems that this light within us — that is us — rises and sets.
In this corporeal life, we burn only as brightly as we are able to unshield ourselves from the flaming essence of our spirit. The material world appears pefect and beautiful when bathed in its warm glow, and so do we appear perfect and beautiful to ourselves when we see that we are, fundamentally, this light. It is not our soul that needs feeding; it is the flame of our soul that feeds us: our body, our mind, our being. This is our bliss. Look no further. We find it nowhere else but within.
Why do we shy away from this eternal internal flame of our essence? It burns so brightly, with such heat, that it burns us. Have you ever felt yourself to be larger than life, as big as the universe? Have you ever felt an energy burgeoning up within your body like a tsunami about to overwhelm your being? These are the unshielded moments in which we experience our true selves. It’s like looking up into the noonday sun. We are that bright, too bright to be looked upon at first. How is it possible that I am so perfect? How dare I be so beautiful, so much larger than life? The chatter. The shield.
Recall that ice cube on your skin. Suffer the initial shock, then the cool sets in. Laugh at the sky. You are that beautiful. You are that much larger than life. You are perfect.
Some people bare their corporeal being to this flame so completely they glow with it in a way that we apprehend, sense, even see. To sense all that light and heat within another from within our shielded selves inspires an awe, even a fear. Those who burn most brightly must be gentle, cannot be too forceful, at times shielding their full brilliance from us. If we are not too blinded by this light, if we allow the shock of frigid ice to become soothing cool, we find the pleasure in it, the beauty, the perfection. We become a little less afraid to bear the flame of our own essence.
In time, we will all burn this brightly. We will all understand that it is the fire that burns within each of us that connects us to the fire that burns in all things.