David Hancock, Staff Writer

Dear lovers,

I’ve always loved fire. Not in a “burn the world” pyromaniac type of way, but I’ve always thought fire was immensely fascinating and entirely beautiful. The light, the warmth, the heat, and even the burn, I love it all.

I think part of what makes fire so attractive to me is that I am fire. No, I’m not trying to say that I’m attractive (but if you wish to believe that you may), but I mean that humans are in some way on fire. I think all living things are. Not to the same extent of what we think of as fire, but we are burning.

Life is heat.

All heat comes from fire. And no, blankets and fuzzy socks are not warm, it’s your own body heat which makes them warm. The sun, the source of all life on Earth, is basically a big ball of fire, and from that fire plants store energy — a little fire, if you will — which is eaten up by animals to fuel their bodies. Animals are a lot like engines, they require fuel to work properly; and what does it mean for an animal to be working properly? It means to be alive. What does it mean to be alive? It means to have a beating heart, which is our engine, which keeps our fire going, which keeps us warm, which keeps us alive. Without our fuel, our little piece of fire from the sun, we die.

Death is cold.

Another part of fire that I love is that fire is a lot like love. Seriously, it’s weird how perfect of a metaphor fire is for explaining love. Here’s what I mean:

It all starts with a spark. It doesn’t matter at this point what else there is there. You can have a wet log or gasoline-soaked tissue paper, but without a spark you won’t have a fire. That spark isn’t a flame though, just as a “spark” or a crush or just attraction isn’t love, but it is the beginning.

Fire-starting is an art to me. I have mad respect for Bear Grylls for being able to start a fire from just two sticks, but that respect dwindles as the fire gets easier to start, and lighter fluid is just cheating. The way I feel about the honorable way to start a fire is the same with love. Coincidentally, the “lazy” ways to start a fire don’t burn as long as the “honorable” ways do.

It’s easy to set newspapers on fire, but that fire doesn’t last very long. It’s even easier to set gasoline on fire, but then you get an explosion, which is a huge and bright fire but is dead in an instant. These are the fun parts of love, the parts of love that combine with the spark to create a flame, but a love based on only the fun and easy parts of love won’t last very long. One-night-stands and short romances are passionate, bright, and hot, like explosions; but just as explosions are quite different from fires, flings are quite different from real, lasting love.

For a fire to burn for a long time it needs something that burns for a while, like wood or coal. These things are way harder to ignite than paper or kerosene, but burn for much, much longer. These are things like trust, devotion, and sacrifice; not as “fun” as sex and cute little dates, but necessary to build a lasting relationship. A good fire needs a spark, something to light the young flame, and something to keep it going.

Even if you’ve managed to get a good fire going, your job is far from over. Unfortunately, love — like fire — dies sometimes. Sometimes the fire is slowly starved until the flame dies. This is easy to fix though, as the coals are still hot, and just a little more newspaper or even kerosene, in extreme situations, will get that fire going back pretty quickly. A fire that has been stamped out or drenched in a downpour of water, however, is much harder to revive. Lovers that drift apart just need something to light the embers of their love, but if hurt, spite, or betrayal violently end a relationship it is nearly impossible to mend.

Only nearly impossible though, not impossible. All it takes to fix is some more logs, some kindling, and a spark. It all starts with a spark.

David Hancock