Next minute a shooting star shot across the night sky. It interrupted a sea of stars so numerous that it looked like a salt- shaker had spilled across the dark inkiness of the night. Make a wish, they say, but what to wish for? Wishes are like shooting stars, fleeting and misnamed. While a shooting star isn’t a star it’s perhaps just a chunk of rock, then again it could’ve been part of a planet, or an asteroid that had traversed the galaxy for 6 billion years… That shooting star had quite a history!
While I wrote about the day, David sat by the fire occasionally poking it with a stick. It had been lit earlier in the night with a pink lighter that had been gifted early in the trip by other campers, who seemed pleased by the clip on koala given to them in thanks. The lighter had lit many a fire on this trip, but this fire had a special majesty. Away from all signs of civilization it was a beacon that in a way protected and formed a home in the vast space of the wide valley. A primordial thing warming, life giving and protective.
If only a fire could warn of the future, I think looking back. The peace and calm of that night in a valley called death, where the only thought on my mind was telling the story of the day and where we would travel the next. The luxury of choice and a world to explore. Out of interest we had been travelling for 2 weeks at this stage. Putting up the tent was automatic and simple, the rhythm of the days a pleasant routine. The only worry finding a camp spot and which direction to head next. At the time it did not feel life changing. It was part of a simple plan for my life. The plan, which like the fire warming the night, within a year would be ashes. Looking back now this simple night holds a space that is extraordinary.
I can’t remember the first time I was entranced by fire. It had been a feature of my childhood that made my parents worry I would turn into a fire-bug. Mesmerized by the flames of the bonfire or the spinning Catherine wheel sparks on Fire Cracker night. The smoke and smell of my father burning off rubbish and the almost religious experience of burning candles, dripping wax, molding that warm wax into shapes.
It was brilliant to be able to take a year off to travel. An amazing privilege that we worked hard for. Sometimes, despite the hard times and trauma I’ve experienced in my life, I think “aren’t I lucky”. Like fire there are many elements needed to bring that life into being that eclipse simple luck though. A fire needs clear ground- (opportunity), it needs fuel (work) and it needs a spark (imagination). Until finally the fuel is used up and the fire dwindles to embers that only need more fuel and a breath of wind to bring it back to life.
Thinking back to that night, I’m glad I knew nothing of what was to come. For if I did, I would probably still be out there wandering the desert…