Standing Outside The Fire

The Signs Are All Around

I endeavor to live a spiritual life. Sometimes I do better at that than others. Actually, for quite a while now, I've been straying from my spiritual path. It's pretty easy to do. Straying from a spiritual path, I mean. Let's face's a lot of hard work most of the time! Living from the heart instead of the head, remembering that there's more to life than just me, devotionals in various forms, prayer...

Much easier to run on autopilot, mindlessly coasting through this physical experience.

Speaking of which, how does that work anyway? As enlightened individuals (hopefully), we're supposed to stay mindful, yet we should also live heart centered lives, and stay out of our heads. 

Guess I'll have to sit with that one for a while.

I've been very much stuck in my head for quite a long time now. I'm quite good at it, really. I tend to stay in a very intellectual place most of the time. It can be a strength, but I also use it as a defense mechanism, because if I'm speaking from an intellectual place, then I can avoid engaging with actual emotions! I can even speak about emotions intellectually, and most of the time, people think I am talking about my emotions, emotionally. I've fooled some very emotionally attuned people with this technique.

Of course, for most of my life I didn't realize I was doing this. Sometimes, I'm so good at this intellectualizing emotions, that I can fool myself into thinking I am being open and honest about emotions, all the while keeping a safe distance.

Before I take this tangent too far afield, recently when I was stuck in my head, a memory from college peeked out and made me reflect on the course my life has taken.

I remembered a conversation I had with one of my roommates as we were driving around town one summer afternoon. He was a big country music fan...I was not. This roommate and I grew up just a few miles from each other in the rural Midwest and went to different schools. Country music, in general, was quite popular at both of our schools. That's probably why I actively rejected it for so long. I tend to avoid things that seem TOO popular.

Anyway, my roommate, who was driving us around in his car, was playing country music, when all of a sudden, he said, "Hey, I want to play this song for you. But you have to listen to the words" (that's what EVERYONE said where I grew up. "You may not like country music,  it you have to listen to the words!").

He played "Standing Outside The Fire" by Garth Brooks.

Life is not tried, it is merely survived

If you're standing outside the fire

"That song reminds me of you, because you're not afraid to go out there and try things, and I wish I was more like that" he told me.

I thought back to a time not long before that conversation when I went with all of my roommates to a country bar (hey, it was hanging out with the guys!).

We were at a table, talking amongst ourselves, when an attractive woman approached us.

"Alright guys," she began. "One of you is going to dance with me. Now, who's it going to be?"

All of my roommates were even more introverted than I am, so they unanimously volunteered me.

I warned this friendly woman that I did not know anything about this style of dancing, and she assured me she would teach me.

So we danced, and talked, and had a lovely time.

THAT was trying life, not merely surviving it.

Remembering those days, that conversation brought me to a disturbing realization: that song, that admiration my roommate had for me, no longer applied.

Not only have I been standing outside the fire for longer than I can remember, I don't think I could even SEE the fire from where I've been living from.

What happened??

How did I go from one of "those who dance within the flames" to one of those that has distant memories of the fire, and has nearly forgotten it was ever there?

I knew I strayed from my spiritual path, but my life path too? (is there a difference?).

Both of my parents died when I was in my 20's, and since their loss, I have been haunted by the feeling that I have wasted so much time in life. Their deaths taught me that we never know how much time we are allotted in this life. Carpe diem! Momento mori! (Seize the day! You, too shall die!).

Part of my highly intellectual way of being, is mulling over things for a while. The shift to standing outside the fire, as a way of being, has been mulled for several weeks now.

Tonight, I read something that resonated so strongly with me, that it tied everything together in a brilliant little package.

These words are attributed to the late Layne Redmond:

I now know in every cell of my body that death is real, it is final, it is irrevocable and that I will die. Whatever time I have left must be used for manifesting the most profound purpose that brought me to life to begin with. I must be satisfied with every interaction I have with any person, as if it is my final action, my final thought.

If you're not familiar with Layne, she was a frame drummer, a teacher, an author, and a beautiful soul.

I did not have the opportunity to study with her, or even meet her in person, but we exchanged several messages through social media.

Do I want to be stuck in my head? Do I want to stay strayed from my spiritual path? Do I want to stand outside the fire?


I want to live from my heart. I want to walk my path with courage. I want to dance within the flames.

I want to manifest my most profound purpose! 

As a spiritual person, I believe that we are being guided. We are being guided what to do with our lives, and how to do it. The signs are all around us, if we can only see them with an open heart.

Layne's words really spoke to me tonight. I must be satisfied with every interaction I have with any person, as if it is my final action, my final thought.

So, when that beautiful woman asks me to dance, I will smile, and lead her to the center of the flames, as if it is my final action.

How else am I going to manifest my most profound purpose otherwise?