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Burned to the ground.

By December 27, 2009Myth or Reality, Writing

red featherI read the Harry Potter books (and watched Days of our Lives with my mom in the 80’s) so I’d heard the magic of the phoenix described, but it wasn’t until I saw Harry Potter on the big screen and watched Fawkes in action that I really got it.

Before our very eyes, he incinerated. Completely. I remember in that moment, watching him turn to ash and fall in a heap, thinking, Is that really necessary? Can’t he save at least one feather? I don’t know about him, but I wanted to hold onto something.

The answer, however, is no. I’ve found myself recently in a situation where a part of my life is incinerating. And the same questions are surfacing (with the tenacity of a piranha), Can’t I save at least one piece? Like I said, the answer is absolutely not.

Because when a path back remains, when even one of the bridges is left standing, when a light is still on in a distant window, you’ll be tempted to go back. Whether or not the way is passable, whether or not the doors are firmly locked when you get there, whether or not your legs will even agree to carry you where you think you want to go – there’s going to be a place in your heart that wants to try. Especially if it thinks there’s a way. You’ll walk over each one of these ‘ways’ and through every moment before the fire was lit and you’ll think of a million things you could have done differently – playing the most dangerous game of all, if only I had…

It’s a nearly impossible pill to swallow. It is an impossible game to win.

In fact, you did those things, the ones that led to the burning, because the fire had to come. Because that bird was cooked, it was done. And, I suppose, had to be destroyed.

My upset when I watched Fawkes disintegrate, was of course, quickly assuaged when he mythically reformed whole and perfect and new moments later. The phoenix doesn’t look back or have glaciers of regret or try to return or hold on. The phoenix is pure in its pursuit of rebirth – new blood, new purpose, new feathers. A truly awesome feat. I mean, really.

For this rebirth, something burns. And the pain of it is extraordinary, unimaginable and dire. Into my fire, I’m throwing in mistakes, regrets, apologies, words I’d give anything to take back, oceans upon oceans of tears. And I’m looking forward to stepping out of it with lessons learned, earned strength, striking hotness, a brightly shining light, and hopefully, a few red feathers…you know, for good measure.

Image credit: zackzen

Join the discussion 17 Comments

  • Todd Jordan says:

    Wow. Wonderful post. Makes me want to take a step back and make sure I’ve really burned those bridges I say I have as well as burn some as I transition into 2010.

    The mind focusing on regret is not the mind moving forward to success.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Thanks, Todd. I always love hearing from you. And such wise words – YES to moving forward to success.

  • Ashley says:

    I think I need to read this essay everyday before bed. I think the image of the Phoenix is a worthy one to recall and reflect on, on a daily basis May you arise again feathers brilliant Julie!

  • Julie Roads says:

    Ashley! Shreshta! Thank you for your kind words…so good to hear from you. I hope this finds you well.

  • --Deb says:

    Nobody said that rebirth was any easier than birth in the first place–you have no choice but to start completely fresh. Looking back is one thing, but you can’t cling to the past. (Says the person who clings for all she’s worth, yet hasn’t gone back once to the house we had to leave in November, even though it’s only 3 miles away.)

    Oh, and virtual hugs upon request, if you need them!

  • Cecilia says:

    I can’t help but wonder if you are talking about a relationship?

  • Julie Roads says:

    Cecilia – I guess I am. Any time that we engage with another person, a situation, a career, a pursuit – a relationship is formed. Does it really matter exactly what I’m talking about? As is true with all readers and writers, each reader will personalize the words they read. And that’s all that matters…reader, words, connection.

  • Years ago I read a short story that told of a woman’s pleasure as she stood watching her house burn down–a house that had held a troubled marriage and other problems. I could not, as a child, understand how that woman actually enjoyed watching the house burn. But as an adult, I get it–at least metaphorically. You are so right–when even the tiniest bridge remains, it is human nature to want to cross back. Comforting words for the tough times when it feels like everything is in flames.

  • Jack says:

    This post resonated with me. All too familiar. Sometimes change is good. I tell myself that often.

  • Ed says:

    Like a washcloth being wrung out. Lots of water escapes, but he cloth is left damp, needing to dry out at a slower pace.

    I hope tomorrow is brighter.

  • Edgy Mama says:

    There was a phoenix in Days of Our Lives?

    Julie, your strength is inspiring.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Yes! Stefano DiMera – the eternal bad guy! His whole shtick was that of the phoenix. He would die and then rise again – and he’d do the same thing to other characters on the show: he’d have them disappear and then reappear (be reborn) as someone new. Think Roman and John Black. I’m pretty sure there were also tattoos – black phoenix tattoos – involved.

    Really, it’s a wonder I graduated from junior high at all when my mind was corrupted with this crap!

  • whollyjeanne says:

    now this is the way to build a bonfire. great post that i’ll reread frequently.

  • Me says:

    very deep…burn it up, sister.

  • Etan says:

    Hello Ms. Roads,
    I’ve been one of those silent readers up until now. I only reluctantly read your posts… not because I don’t like them but because I do. I’m a frustrated blogger and your posts feed that nagging feeling that I should be doing the same. I’m a late bloomer to writing but have found it every appealing yet frustrating, because I can’t seem to take that next step and start out on my own. I’ve not been successful in garnering an audience but the ones that do come like my posts…

    Anyway… I wanted to say that I know how you feel. I’ve had more burnings than I care to recall. The pain at times was excrusiating. I finally just said to the powers that be ‘If it is meant to be then let it, if not, let it be done’.

    Once I let go of the strings one eventually came to stay and I knew. I hope that the smoke clears soon for you. Keep up the inspiring posts… even if you don’t hear from many of us. I have a feeling I’m not the only lurker out there.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Etan – thank you so much for taking the time and the leap and speaking up. It means a lot to me – but so also do the visitor numbers that show up on my stat counter. I’m fine with the silent readers – oftentimes, I am one.

    I checked out your blog and you are a wonderful writer…don’t give up the good fight.

    Happy new year – may you be discovered, published and monied,

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