Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Catching Fire: Seeing A Glimmer of Hope Amidst the Flames January 30, 2013

Words never cease to amaze me. Understanding their meanings ignites a fire of passion within me I can’t explain. So today I examine one of many words in the English language that (in my humble opinion) has completely contradictory definitions.

Spark. “Fiery particle: a small piece of burning substance thrown off in combustion or produced in friction,” says Bing. Literally, a spark that catches fire can cause destruction, devastation and heartbreak. Yet in another breath, spark is defined as “something that activates: a device that sets off or acts as a stimulant, inspiration, or catalyst.” Figuratively, a spark catching fire can ignite positive change.

Can this one word really mean both things?

Hope Catching Fire

Literally, I find myself pondering what would happen in the case of a fire in my life. Say my beloved forever home burns to the ground tomorrow. What would I save? Assuming my mom and dad are safely outside, I can think of five things I would have time to rescue before it would be too late.

Peanut butter. I love the stuff. And if the house burned down, I would want to know I had some to get me through the emotional eating that would likely follow the devastating loss of what I thought would be my forever home. I know it probably sounds ridiculous, but “you’re only given one little spark of madness,” as comedian Robin Williams said. “You mustn’t lose it.”

Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. This book has been an inspiration to me so far this year. It helps keep me focused, encourages me with creative thoughts for this blog, and reminds me daily how lucky I am to be alive. Similar fundamental values of life inspired French poet and novelist best known for the heart-wrenchingly beautiful Les Miserables, who once said “to learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”

Mrs. Prickles.  If I could take all my toys I would, but she is my favorite. From playtime with my mom and dad, to her comforting ability to help me regulate my stress level, I love her and all she embodies. “To cement a new friendship…a spark with which both were secretly charged must fly from person to person and cut across the accidents of place and time,” said American author and actress Cornelia Otis Skinner. A true friend, Mrs. Prickles is my constant reminder that without sorrow there would be no joy.

My blog. I was going to say I would save my laptop since losing everything in a fire would be devastating, and I’m sure I could cope if I knew I could still find joy in something. For me, this blog is joy and I don’t think I’d know what to do with myself if I couldn’t share it anymore. But let’s face it. My positive attitude cannot be burned in a fire, and the blog would go on without the laptop. “Computers are magnificent tools for the realization of our dreams,” as computer guru Louis Gerstner said, “but no machine can replace the human spark of spirit, compassion, love and understanding.”

And so we come to the last and most important source of my own personal spirit, compassion, love and understanding. My adoption papers. Clearance dog or otherwise, these papers are priceless to me. As Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance, they are my very own treasure map to happiness. My ticket to my forever home. My inspiration for living.

“The artist must create a spark before he can make a fire and before art is born,”  French sculptor Auguste Rodin once said. “The artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of his own creation.”

I see joy in the contradiction of a spark, and it consumes me because I see a glimmer of hope amidst the flames.Hope Catching Fire