At it’s heart, the words and the imagery are so true. We often feel so important and permanent – as though much of the universe revolves around our giant ego. But really, each of us is no more than a flame burning atop to candle of our life.
This isn’t a bad thing. Well, I suppose it’s bad for our ego. But ignoring the ego for a minute, (and we know how that ego hates to be ignored…), it’s really a good way for me to see my life. Just a flame atop a candle.
I live a pretty lucky life – one of plenty and privilege in one of the best places on earth to live. I’m not scrounging for my next meal, or hoping to find a warm shelter for the night. So in many ways, my metaphorical flame is pretty safe from the wind.
I have a good friend who died last summer. He had amassed considerable wealth, and lived in a safe gated community in a safe city. He had built a life of great security and comfort, sheltered from nearly any harmful wind. Then a silly little infection started up inside him, and it wasn’t long before it had swept through his body and snuffed out the flame on top of a candle that we all thought had a good bit of wax left.
Just like that. No warning. An unexpected draft blew in from an unseen corner, and the flame was no more.
I suppose I could look at that and start to fear every little draft I feel from every corner I pass, because who knows, this might be the one to snuff out my flame. Find a double-gated community, and build enough wealth to buy the best security that can be bought. Avoid any possibility of danger.
But the metaphor has a different meaning and inspiration for me. First off, I accept that the whole notion of “security” is a myth. Be wise and be safe, but never accept the myth that you can be truly secure. The breeze is blowing around us all the time. When I pull my flame down into a bunker to try and protect it from the wind, all I do is withdraw from life. The air in the bunker will get stale, and the oxygen will get thin. Eventually, the flame dies from starvation.
Far better to be out in the wind of life. Don’t challenge the wind, but don’t fear it. One day, a breeze will come along and snap the flame out, but there’s only so much candle anyway. While I’ve got flame, I want it to burn brightly, and shine everywhere it can. When the wind comes to knock the flame down, I hope to flare as brightly as possible just before it snaps out.
Life is just like a candle in the wind – there can be no denying that. Instead of hiding from the wind, I hope to find places to shine, and dance with the wind when I can. It’ll get me one day, but until then, we’ll dance in a bright flame!