As we grow and learn, we are able to decipher when things are good for us and when they are not. Sometimes, we need a push to get there, but, for me, how I got to the next step in my journey in life doesn’t matter as much as the fact that I’m here and continuing on toward a better future.
Sometimes, letting go of something you were angry about is best done in fire. I’ve always been a bit of a firebug. I nearly set my house on fire when I was 16, but that’s a story for another time. I like to watch the fire as it dances and how it behaves differently depending on what item is being burned.
As a child, we used to have a burning barrel in my grandmother’s back yard. I volunteered to burn everything because I found the fire calming and mesmerizing. It would later be added to the compost pile for the garden in a process I didn’t quite understand. It didn’t matter. I got to burn stuff without getting yelled at, so it was all good.
On July 25, 2023, I decided to burn the journal I kept for all of 2020 and 2021. I have debated with myself for about a year whether or not I should keep it, shred it, or burn it. As I perused through the journal not long ago, I found words of pain, begging for help that was never received. Over the past year and a half, my new therapist has walked me through some of the highlights and we linger over the bigger things to make them smaller things.
She sat and listened last December as I raged over things left unsaid, doors opened that were never closed and made me worse, and helped me plan to tackle some of my bigger issues, such as lack of sleep, flashbacks, emotional flashbacks, and more.
I realized this summer I was no longer angry and was ready to let those two years go so I can work on the important things I should have been working on. I decided to burn the journal. I could write an entire post about the many reasons why, but I’m going to leave those conversations between me and my new therapist. Actually, she’s just my therapist now – no need to call her new anymore.
Paul had the day off, so I asked him if he would like to join me at Lake Minatare so I could safely burn the journal. We went out to Sunrise Beach because it is our favorite spot and it is usually empty of people. It is also the only spot I knew of with a safe area for me to set things on fire.
The front cover is the only reason I even hesitated to burn my journal. It is the only one like it that I owned. I have other Star Wars journals in multiples, but this one with Kylo Ren on the front was cool and I’ve never seen another one like it. Still, it was time to start a fire and a cool picture wasn’t going to stop me.
Paul took this picture of me. I only like it because it was a windy day and you can see how curly my hair is. I had to put the book far back into the fire pit and climb in to get the fire started.
I finally got the fire going and had a great sense of relief in knowing this was finally happening. The windy day – and what day isn’t windy in western Nebraska – made it more difficult to start the fire. Soon, the stormtroopers would disappear.
I like the progression from regular pages to complete destruction with the flames dancing over the yet to be burned pages. The flames danced about, pushed by the relentless Nebraska wind. To and fro. Up and down. When the winds died down, the flames grew taller and burned brighter. What I experienced through 2020 and 2021 had nothing to do with Covid. It had to do with keeping my fire from burning and blowing me in the wrong direction.
I think this picture is artistically beautiful. You can see the pages crumbling under the immense heat while watching the flames consume all “that shit” I endured for two years. The words “still mad” can be clearly seen in the pages turning to dust. I’m not mad anymore about what happened. I’m still sad and sometimes frustrated, but I no longer feel anger.
I see the fire from within me burning from the inside out. There’s a satisfaction in seeing the many bits burning, breaking, and tearing apart. There is nothing left to be read, only watching the pain being erased as the heat from the fire eventually obliterates the ink from the pages.
This is my favorite photo of the day. There’s a symmetry and unspoken poetry to the image. It reminds me of me. Slowly burning on the inside, tempered by burnt edges, but still yearning for a clean, blank slate to start again.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching the cover melt. It took the longest to burn and protected the journal for some time. It was like the journal didn’t want to let go even though I have been ready to for a while.
The intense heat erased the ink I used and continued to burn the pages. Watching this happen over the course of an hour allowed me think about how I feel about letting this all go. It’s not gone completely. That will come with time and hard work, but the red hot pain of the words written in this journal don’t have to hurt so much anymore. I have a proper outlet now. I don’t have to flounder alone in between the pages of my journal. I shifted at least a year ago to processing and thinking in my journal instead of dozens of pages of being alone. There is a kind of peace to watching paper burn. It becomes so fragile, crumbling to dust at the slightest touch. Then, like all things in the universe, it transferred its heat and energy to the nearby branch, giving life to something new.
The heat, overwhelming the pages, burns a dark red, an open wound spilling its secrets to no one. As it turns to dust, the red sears itself through the heart of the journal, erasing the pain, the disappointment, the lingering fear that I can’t get better.
Satisfied everything is gone, Paul pours warm water from a bottle onto the ashes. Smoke rises as I watch what was once pages of pain become a smoky mist, passing into the air to become nothing. I also found it amusing that Kylo Ren’s light saber did not burn.
When I was finished, I took a stroll onto Sunrise Beach and found this beer bottle. I thought I could make a cool picture. I think I succeeded. Also, humans are trash. FFS people, pick up after yourselves.
If you thought any of these photos were cool, you should see them in their original, unedited glory. They are awesome.