The images of Notre Dame on fire brought tears to my eyes. It was terrible and stunning to see such a pillar of history and testament of faith burn so aggressively. I know what it is to stand outside and … Continue reading
At first glance, you might think my sister is cold. She isn’t. No one who has truly mastered fire is. Behind her compulsory composure is an immense capacity for love. It’s not the ebullient love of a puppy or doting … Continue reading
I wish I had my sister’s magic. She’s already wielding flames like an Alpha, and this is only her first semester at The University. As twins, we couldn’t be more different. Sometimes I imagine we’re really a whole that was cut into halves, because aside from body parts, everything she has I lack—and vice versa.
It’s her calm mind and temperate emotions that allow her to master fire so effortlessly. She is not easily distracted or provoked. She’s unreachable when she’s focused. I, on the other hand, I contain a tempest. The slighted thing spurs me on. My moods are a maelstrom, and they bring everyone and everything around them down—down to the depths of my turbulent conscious.
My sister once told me that she’s jealous of me. I didn’t believe her until I saw the fatigue behind the focus in her eyes. I had always wanted to be like her so that I could have fire. There is so much I want to burn down. I was surprised to discover that she wants to be like me. My powers are so rudimentary. Seeing the surprise and incredulity written all over my face, she pointed out that I have freedoms she can never enjoy. I can rage and cry and fight and laugh uncontrollably. Alpha Incendiaries can’t do any of that. They are never allowed to be weapons—only vehicles or vessels.
Just the other day we were walking towards campus when a racist, upon seeing us, hurled some explicit words as well as his coffee cup in our direction. Both the contents of his statements and his cup were hot—hot enough to burn. I felt my skin and then my temper boil.
My sister could have set him ablaze with no more than a glance. She could have manipulated his mind so that he would think himself on fire. That’s what I would have done with her power. I would have sentenced him to seeing consuming flames whenever he uttered words full of hate. But that’s not how my sister operates. She just took a slightly deeper breath in and kept the pace at which she was walking while we healed. That is the serenity of my sister. She lives like a lake that can only be mildly disturbed—no matter what you throw at her. I, however, wasn’t feeling so generous towards the bigot, so I made him mute for a month.
I find it quite satisfying using mortals’ maladies against them. Speak out of turn, whether it be a racist rant or sexually explicit language, and I can take your voice with chronic laryngitis. Touch me or someone I care about inappropriately, and I’ll give you the flu—preferably the day after you get the vaccine shot. If you’re unkind towards a child, you’ll get a dose of pink eye. Greed will get you allergies. Infidelity an STD. Ulcers and kidney stones go hand in hand with abuse of any variety. And I love using diarrhea for unchecked vanity.
I try to abstain from the degenerative and the deadly—but not because humans aren’t deserving; they are—and more. The world is full of people who are teeming with hate and unbridled cruelty. I could afflict them all. I don’t simply because such manipulations would lead to severe consequences with The Faculty. My sister doesn’t have to worry about such things. As someone on the Alpha track, she can quite literally do no wrong. And once she self-actualizes, she’ll be living above the law.
The professor held a candle before the class. With a sharp efficiency she lit it, and everyone watched the diminutive flame bend and flicker at the mercy of the room’s currents. Then the professor uttered a few words, lay the … Continue reading
“Some people change their ways when they see the light, others when they feel the heat.” ~Caroline Schroeder From the Archives: Words Are Fiery
“Please, Lord, not another fire—not this again.” That was all I could say Monday morning as I saw the fire trucks lining our block and smelled that the blaze was near. Looking up towards the sky I could see glowing … Continue reading
I’ve never seen my father loose his temper. I’ve never heard him raise his voice or witnessed his silent anger. Not once. Not ever. And while my mother was a more passionate presence in my life, I’ve never seen my parents … Continue reading
I am thankful for now—this season of fruitfulness and happiness. I have spent a sufficient number of days in the darkness to be exceedingly grateful for this time in the light. It’s sometimes hard to not worry that the other … Continue reading
Isn’t it strange how difficult a seemingly simple thing like letting go can be? Even when we know someone is there to catch us, it’s hard. Even when the thing we are holding on to hurts us, it’s difficult. Sometimes what we would gain in letting go is much greater and sweeter than whatever we’re clasping in our figurative hands, and yet we’re still resistant.
As a creature of habit, letting go—even of something I don’t want to hold on to—can be challenging for me. There are things I feel obligated to carry. It’s difficult for me to put down a responsibility, even if it doesn’t belong to me. Guilt is sticky. I try to let go of it, but it clings. I’m uncomfortable disappointing the people I love, even when it’s necessary or healthy.
I’ve had to learn how to let go of many things: relationships that are mutually destructive or benefitting neither party; dreams; worries; misplaced anger; counterproductive jealousy; friendships that are waning (or dying); expectations and ideals that are unhealthy. When my mother passed away I had to let go of deeper things. That’s a different type of letting go—mourning.
Letting go can be challenging. It’s admitting that the steering wheel you’re gripping with both hands isn’t attached to anything. It’s that moment in rappelling down a wall when you have to sit back into nothing. Letting go can feel impossible and scary. So many of us are afraid of failing, falling, or changing.
As a recovering perfectionist and chronic control freak, for me letting go means trusting that someone else will do something the way I would—or that they’ll do it a different way and nothing will implode. When I got married, in addition to letting go of certain freedoms that are linked to being single, I had to let go of expecting everything to be done/cooked/cleaned to my specifications in my—our—home. My husband came with a set of habits and preferences all his own. Sometimes letting go means compromising—navigating a roiling sea of needs and wants with another person.
When my husband and I lost almost everything we owned in a fire, I learned new lessons about letting go—especially of material possessions. We were fortunate in that we were able to save a lot of sentimental things (photographs, letters, my first teddy bear). We also didn’t loose any important documents (diplomas, passports, marriage and birth certificates). But we did loose a lot of commonplace stuff—furniture, clothes, electronics, and linens. Oddly enough, some of the things that survived I wish had been destroyed. At the top of that list is my wedding dress. It’s something I have no use for, don’t want to own anymore, but can’t seem to let completely go of. (It hangs in the basement at my in-laws.)
Life after the fire in our building was a seminar in letting go. I had to let go of certainty, privacy, comfort, and control. We spent ten months living like nomads. Each stop had its perks. Some had their disadvantages. In some spaces we had privacy, in others we did not. Sometimes we had space, other times we felt like we were living in a closet. We slept on a futon, the floor, an air mattress (that one our cats eventually punctured), and a twin-sized bed. And each time we moved, we had no idea where (or for how long) we’d live next. I could not control the amount of time we’d be displaced. We didn’t know it would be ten months at the onset. I had to let go of my impatience as home became a moving target.
I’ve had to learn how to let go of stuff. A lot was destroyed in the fire, and living nomadically meant paring down what remained of our belongings to the portable necessities. Options were a luxury. As we began the process of replacing our lost possessions, with no permanent home, we put most things in storage. I had to let go of being sure where anything was or when I’d see it again. Some things went to a professional storage facility; other things went to the homes of friends and family. Where any specific thing was at any given moment was rarely known with a complete certainty.
I’ve learned some important lessons through letting go. It gives me a better perspective from which to see things for what they really are. Sometimes bad things seem good when I’m holding on to them because I’m too close to see their flaws and negative consequences. Other times letting go of something good has reminded me that I can survive and thrive in the midst of loss or change. It prevents me from making any one thing my everything. A few times letting go of something good has made room for something even better to takes its place. Letting go of something good can free me up to reach for something great.
I can’t say that I’m particularly good at letting go now. I’m a bit less attached to stuff, but I’m still a creature that finds certain changes grating and most habits comfortable. I resist letting go of my routines. I like to sit in the same seat at church and any place I go regularly. I eat one of three things for breakfast most mornings.
I hope I’m better than I used to be (and keep improving) at letting go when it’s necessary, healthy, or right for me. I don’t want to cling to things, habits, or people that are damaging. Hard as it sometimes is, letting go is a natural part of life. Change is the only constant I can find.
Even though I’m a dog person, I have two cats. I adopted them almost nine years ago. A friend of a friend of a then coworker had saved them from being euthanized at a shelter, but was unable to keep … Continue reading