Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I walked on Fire!

I swore I would never do it. I told all my friends I didn't need to walk on fire to prove anything. I've been burned before. Ovens, fireplaces, backyard bar-b-ques, exes, stoves, motorcycle mufflers, indian burns too...and then there was the time I was young and slightly intoxicated and fell asleep with my feet really close to the bonfire and my shoes melted....true story! well, it actually happened to my friend Erny  - we puled him away from the fire before he was really hurt, but we had lots of laughs at his expense before that moment when his soles were beginning to liquefy...but I digress...

Fire is really hot. So are the coals. So, when Tony Robbins has a seminar that offers a walk across hot coals as a metaphor for being able to do anything in this life, you should run as fast as you can in the other direction. Right?  (I know those of you in the fire curious category just want to watch, eh?)  Everybody loves an accident, as long as it isn't happening to them, so you think to yourself, "I really want to see all of the complete idiots who are gong to walk across hot coals and be scarred (physically and mentally) for life." 

So naturally, I went to Tony's seminar called "Unleash the Power Within" to witness lemming-like people being led across beds of hot coals - I imagined the sea of human suffering I would witness, and most definitely would never allow myself to participate in this most certain human disaster in the making.  I was wondering how long the lines would be at the nearest emergency room - people with charred feet, moaning and pulling themselves across the pavement because they couldn't walk, their swaddled feet oozing all kinds of grossness, the smell of charred (dare I say bar-b-qued) feet...It is amazing how many VIVID images of fire related injuries the mind can conjure... 

So there I am, in a room with 3500 other people, yelling and screaming like those possessed, caught up in the energy of people who believe "I CAN!" Saying "YES" to possibility, to positive change and growth, to life and to bettering the world we live in... being inspired to believe we can do anything we set our minds to, even walk across hot coals....

Wait.  Did he say 1200 to 2000 degree coals?... Is everybody in this room insane? My palms get sweaty thinking about doing this. Are all of these people nuts? My toaster oven commands my complete respect, and it only gets 450 degrees. This is 3-5 times as hot? How can my skin possibly handle this heat? My rational brain was beginning to work properly again. For a minute, I lost my bearings and was beginning to think I was actually going to do this thing, but my mind is coming back now. Nobody is stupid enough to walk across hot coals and not expect their feet to be ruined, right?

And so went the mental gymnastics in my head. Freaking mental olympics I should say, and I was going for the gold medal....I can do anything, but do I really need to walk on hot coals? I believe in myself, but isn't this going to hurt?...Ok, I've made my point way too many times here... I was scared. 

So there I am, learning to listen to my fears instead of running from them. Learning to get past fear by embracing it and dancing with it - the fire is just a metaphor for the things that hold you back and the things you are afraid of in this life -  if you walk across 12oo degree coals, then you can do anything, and the promise of that  - the idea that I can symbolically (and quite literally)  confront my fears and conquer them  - when that becomes a possibility - a sea change in my thinking occurred - Once you cross the fire, you get to do the victory dance...

You know the dance - the one football players do in the end zone - the one that "The Price is Right" contestants do when they are chosen to play the game - the dance you do when you win whatever game you are playing - the jumping up and down with your hands high in the air screaming like a maniac with happiness and joy dance - Maybe you haven't done this dance in a while, but I bet if you try it right now - that's right - right now - get up off your butt and jump up and down yelling "I did it!" No, really... Do it!   Do it with verve, with excitement, with passion and joy. Your friends are staring at you wondering WTF? So what! Do it anyway!  It feels really great. TRY IT! 

Ok. Be honest. Did you really get up and jump up and down? Yes?  You freaking rock!  No? Are you the type who is waiting 'til the end of the story before thinking about whether you maybe want to possibly get up (and possibly be embarrassed) and do this silly thing? I understand. I used to be that person. No judgement here - I think you will be amazed at how good it feels to jump up and down for joy. This small act should be on everyone's  list of healthy things to do - you'll feel great and love how simple it is to make yourself feel better almost instantly. 

So, if you're still standing, you can sit down. 

Where was I? Oh yes. 

After several hours of mental preparation, (much of it involving my vivid imagination of what fire does to your skin) me and 3500 other seminar attendees walk outdoors toward the firewalker site. There are drums beating - It sounds like a tribal drum circle - you can smell the smoke. A large fire burns in the night, somewhere nearby. It is dark. Very dark . It's late. There's no moon. We are chanting "yes I can" as we walk toward 20 or so ten foot long firepits, where volunteers are emptying buckets of fresh hot coals. We line up and the drums get louder - the walk begins - There is a guide right there by the firepit who helps you prepare to walk - You change your mental state, look forward and up, think "cool moss, cool moss", and walk - deliberately and with purpose across the coals - just like that. 

 And then you get to do the dance!

Scream at the top of your lungs - jump up and down like a monkey - pretend you just won the lottery or a medal at the the olympics - it feels that great. And it takes a while to realize just how big a deal this is - it sinks in over a period of days, even weeks  - I walked on fire. I can do anything I put my mind to. How cool is that?

Cool moss....