Why Writing Is Like a Forest Fire

One thing about forest fires – they make for dramatic sunsets.

A lot of people here are bemoaning the fire. For those not up on Western news, the Wallow Fire is now the third largest in Arizona’s recorded history. The fire covers 486 square miles, has been burning for over a week and firefighters have zero containment. Fortunately they’ve been able to keep it away from the towns so far and let it burn away at the dry forested hillsides.

But people have been saying things like “why do there have to be forest fires?” And I hear them blaming oil companies for global warming.

They really don’t like it when you point out that forest fires are part of nature and play an essential role in the cycle of the forests and fertilization of the soil. Nature isn’t always a pretty, happy place with serene lakes and chirping birds. Sometimes it’s ugly and violent. Plants and animals are consumed and remade. Flames and smoke boil through and overcome everything.

We’ve had to seal up the house, to keep the smoke out. The other night it was so thick, it was like night fell hours early. I worried about the birds, with their tiny lungs.

But in the morning, the hummingbirds were out as usual, feeding in the clear morning air.

David pointed out something to me the other day. He says I said it to him, but I don’t remember it. We’d watched Creation, a really excellent movie about Darwin, with Paul Bettany (yum!) and Jennifer Connelly. In the movie he struggles with Parkinson’s disease, the death of his daughter and a spiritual crisis that threatens his til-then strong marriage. Writing his manuscript is a huge effort.

David used that as an example and said that, when we have an art or a pursuit we’re passionate about, it nurtures us. It’s wrong-headed to think we live our lives to nurture it. Rather, it’s when people lose their passions that they falter and waste away.

I don’t live to support my writing. My writing is what keeps me alive.

It’s all part of nature.

3 Replies to “Why Writing Is Like a Forest Fire”

  1. That's what "they" all are saying. To have a happy and complete life, one needs to concentrate on the aspects that bring interest and happiness (even joy) to your everyday living. And to think, that came from Ophra!

  2. He's very smart, Linda – I'm terribly lucky.

    That's great, Mom! I have a lot of respect for Oprah. We can all use more joy.

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