Our earliest ancestors cowered and ran from fire, fearful of its ability to consume everything in its path. Today, fire is a source of entertainment, energy, and heat that we control. The more we understand the things we fear, the better we are able to use them to our advantage.
If you’re really into planetary geoscience, though, you think of the Rings of Fire is that portion of the Pacific Ocean where a number of volcanoes are active pretty much all the time. With over 475 active and dormant volcanoes in its chain, chances are any seismic activity around the Pacific Rim is caused by activity within this Ring. Should California or any other portion of the West Coast of North America fall into the ocean, chances are the Ring of Fire will be to blame.
Fire can be life threatening, yet at the same time it can be life-saving. Its ability to produce heat has been what kept humans alive for centuries. The more we understand fire and learned to work with it, the more we have been able to progress, to move forward with innovation and invention. The whole Iron Age would have been impossible without fire. Manufacturing? Needed a lot of fire to get that started.
Fire can also be about love, and intimacy, which is what the Cash family says the song is about (there is an apocryphal story countering that claim, but it is unsubstantiated). June always said that falling in love with Johnny was like falling into a ring of fire from which there was no escape, that love burns in the way one never wants to extinguish.
What fire ultimately teaches us, though, is the need to face what we fear. That which causes us to run, to react against what we don’t understand, controls us in very negative ways. We don’t grow, either as individuals or as a society, when we are controlled by our fears. We must do more than merely face them, we must learn to understand them, how to work with those elements and objects and alternatives rather than trying to fight against them.
Most all our social ills are fear based and fear is, almost always, based in ignorance and misinformation. When we legitimately understand, learn the Truth of a matter, then we conquer those fears. We do not win by attempting to legislate against them, shame them, ridicule them, or vilify them in any way. Apply that same negative approach to fire and what does it get you? Burned. So it is with most every other fear one encounters.
Photographing fire is challenging. The shutter speed has to be just right and chances are pretty high it’s going to be something non-intuitive. For the picture above, the shutter was open a full two seconds, an eternity for a camera. Working without any type of preview or on-camera screen, there was considerable risk of blowing the shot. But I’ve done this before. I know my camera. I understand what settings allow it to capture images like these. I don’t act out of fear, but with the confidence of knowing what my camera is capable of doing.
When we’re willing to challenge and understand our fears not only do we move forward, but we open ourselves to the possibility of new love; a love that burns, burns, burns, like a ring of fire. Don’t fear the fire.