Thursday, November 02, 2006

Beauty and the Beast...

Randy posted the following comment:

...Once, after the major part of a firestorm had passed, I watched the residual fire slowly eat up a was eerily spellbinding. I'm also reminded of a line from the book, "You Can't Go Home Again" spoken by a bored debutante leaving a typical Manhattan party after a fire had broken out in the apartment: "If only there could always be a fire."...

And I have to really got me thinking how true that is. That something so horrible can also be beautiful. And, on the flip side, something so beautiful can also turn horrible.

Let's take fire for example. I have only been really looking at the negative side of it. After all, when I have nightmares, they usually have one of two recurring themes... planes crashing (I saw one once...that was enough for me...) and the house burning down. And yet, there is little that can compare with the comfort of sitting by a roaring fire crackling away (contained!) in the fireplace on cold evening or Christmas morning. Or roasting marshmallows by one while sitting on the beach. There is also something very primitive and wild and free about fire.

Probably one of the most amazing things is what occurs after a fire. How nature comes back even after the most devastating of burns. I remember a few years back, a wild fire ran through my dad's grove and it appeared destroyed. Yet, within a week, new sprouts on his avocado trees began pushing their way out on on the burned and blackened branches. Within a month, those determined sprouts were tender new leaves, and within a couple of months, it was hard to tell there'd been a terrible fire that had burned or destroyed close to a hundred homes.

I still have a hard time understanding how someone can just set a fire for the sheer destruction of it, but perhaps they don't think past the possibility that it might burn so outta control. Maybe they feel confident that the abilities of firefighters will keep it contained to a few acres at most. And yes, there is a certain excitement to watching a fire, just as most of us slow down to gasp at the twisted metal of a car wreck, not taking into account there might also be a twisted body.

Maybe the fascination of destruction has less to do with the ruination itself but is more about the spirit of what's survived and what lives on afterwards...