I 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