It All Starts With Nothing

I have an embarrassing confession to make.

Last weekend, I failed to start a campfire twice, despite being an Eagle Scout who has camped dozens of times.

This is embarrassing to me because I love campfires. We are kindred spirits.

I love who the campfire is at its core: a colorful creature of nature that provides light, warmth, and opportunity. At full maturity, that creature reaches out toward the stars, dancing up and down, excited to be alive.

But it all starts with nothing.

Well, maybe something, I guess.

Starting a campfire involves a little bit of science and a little bit of art.

On the science end, you need some kindling: small sticks or twigs that are easily lit with a match or other ignition source. The purpose of kindling is to ignite quickly and stay lit long enough to light the main logs of the campfire.

And kindling is exactly where I failed.

Because of the art side of starting a campfire.

Kindling needs to be arranged so the sticks and twigs funnel the nascent flames up toward the main logs. Successfully done, the humble beginnings of a campfire will emerge within mere minutes.

There are a myriad of reasons things go wrong and the kindling doesn’t fully ignite.

Sometimes you don’t light the twig enough and it goes out prematurely.

Sometimes you don’t arrange the kindling together in a way that will maximize the potential of the initial spark.

Sometimes the wind just blows that first flame out before it can even get started.

Extinguished kindling isn’t a permanent defeat.

If you experiment with igniting different twigs and arranging the kindling in other ways, your initial spark will eventually grow into something much more.

And then you can bask in the light, the warmth, and the opportunity that is now dancing up and down in front of you, reaching toward the stars.