The tattoo across the middle of my back is a fragment from the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus. It has been translated as "all things are consumed by fire, and fire, exhausted, falls back into things. The crops are sold for money to buy food." Pretty cryptic, I know. It is akin to the mantra "Om purnamida..." which states: "This is perfect, that is perfect. Add perfect to perfect and you get perfect. Take perfect from perfect and perfect remains." Confused? Good. Now, back to the fire stuff. Another way to think of the Heraclitus fragment is that it shows that existence is in a constant state of flux. Matter manifests. It gets destroyed and consumed by fire (or some other agent of decay). When the fire burns itself out, the ashes of new, changed matter remain. I'm thinking of all this because while driving home tonight and listening to npr I heard a forest ranger from New Mexico speak about the fires raging out in the western mountains. The ranger's take on it was this: humans have become too adept, ironically, at suppressing these forest fires. After so many years of control, the forests have been amassing so much fuel that now a fire has broken out that we might not be able to put out. In forests, fire is necessary to a healthy eco-system. If purifies and re-starts the system. Unfortunately most of us have grown up with Smokey the Bear telling us "Only you can prevent forest fires." In our personal lives many of us avoid pain and destruction at any cost. But if you're not careful, the cost can be too great. Some destruction, some pain, is necessary for the overall good. Stoke your own fire. Destroy yourself, and in so doing purify and strengthen yourself every day. Don't let yourself get so backed up that a fire flares out that you can't control. Practice, already.