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  • Susan Gallagher

Fire-staring


Every now and then, I feel like I'm tapping into my primitive human past. Like when I spot a cockroach scooting across the floor and feel that involuntary lurch in the pit of my stomach. This must be something inherited from my ancestors, a reaction useful enough to keep me away from diseases and rotten food. There are positive primitive experiences, too, like the endorphin rush I get from eating sugar--Mmm... calories... gooood. But never do I feel more primitive than when I'm staring at a campfire. Nearly all of my senses are called into focus on the sight, the sound, the smell, and the warm-dry feel of a crackling fire. I bet my cavemen ancestors felt mesmerized back then, just as I do today. Fire almost forces you into a kind of meditation, and staring at it probably felt good after a long day of hunting and grunting and gathering. In front of a fire the other night, I thought maybe fire-staring might even be responsible in part for the kind of people we are today. Maybe a nightly, fireside relaxation is what allowed us to sort of hit the mental reset button, and open our minds to things like language and art. Maybe the first campfire starers were also the first to make up songs or stories, or to just goof off--Hey, look what I can do! These thoughts were interrupted the other night by the sudden craving for something that goes great with a campfire, though is far from primitive--an ooey, gooey, chocolaty s'more. Mmm... calories... goood.


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