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The Campfire: Healing Through Heat

It’s a simple chemical reaction: heat meets air meets fuel. The ancient simplicity of fire draws a certain mysticism and healing quality that goes far beyond the scope of scientific inquiry. We are naturally drawn to fire. It can heal us and can give us power over the chaos in our minds.

One of the most destructive forces in the world, fire contains a certain amount duality. Ecology dictates that the cycle of wildfires that we find in nature is destructive, yes, but the magic is what happens in its aftermath. The bulk of the deadness and weight that accumulates on the forest floor is swept away by intense heat and light, only to supply the wildlands with crucial nutrition needed to start anew. The necessity of the cycle is obvious when we discover that it is going to happen, no matter how much resistance it meets. We are the forest...and our hearts, minds, and spirits are wildlands.

We build, and we build, and we build up the dead weight in our conscious and unconscious lives. Our cycle of eliminating accumulated undergrowth is inevitable and, much like the destructive force of wildfires, the nature of the human condition would suggest that resistance accumulates too much undergrowth. Isn’t it ironic that this often happens, for many of us, around the campfire?

Consider the process of the chemical reaction needed for this process to begin. The necessary elements are gathered and, with a bit of heat, the sweeping destruction can build into an inferno. The light is bright and the heat is intense, but with needed perspective, one can observe and experience the beautiful process taking place. The fire takes matter and breaks it down to its simplest form, eliminating clutter and providing room for rebirth and growth. Perhaps this is how we should approach the campfire. If we let go and allow the natural cycle to take place, the painful process can break us down to our most simple form, allowing us to sew into the fertile soils of our minds the healthiest of thought. Without the right perspective may only see the destructive force that fire wields, but if we alter our thinking we will see the necessity that is in this painful process.

So, we speak. We allow the fire to consume the backlog in our minds and allow the metaphorical and the physical fire to burn away all that clutters our forest floor. We can see healing at work. The damage is necessary. The breakdown is necessary. The heat and pain are necessary. But, because we allow ourselves to go through the discomfort, fertile soil provides space for us to heal.

So please, I implore you to open yourself up to the process. What seems like a risk is actually the very pinnacle of safety and security. The process is going to happen one way or another, no matter how hard we fight it. Nature always wins. You are safe here and the burn is controlled. Come to the bonfire.


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Casey Brown is a staff writer for Project Refit, and is a firefighter/EMT in New Jersey job. Together with the rest of the PR team, Casey strives to authentically and effectively tell the stories of vets and first responders. Casey believes that a story told is a life extended, and is helping to empower many other vets and first responders to share their stories.


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