Sometimes I play mind games with myself. You have to do that when you’re trying to control the universe. Or more often, when you feel the universe is controlling you. Today was so quiet that I found myself playing quite a few mind games. The one that became the most challenging involved setting a fire. Even though we burn a lot of fires here it has become somewhat of a joke how hard it is to light one. I’ve spent hours trying. So has Robert. Sometimes one or the other of us gives up. It’s so hard to light a fire here that it was the source of inspiration for my game today. After a few hours, literally, of trying to get this thing ablaze, I finally said to myself that maybe this fire is a metaphor for my dreams. If the thing lights, my dreams will come true, if it doesn’t, I can just give up now.

And that’s when it hit me. It hit me that it wasn’t a question of what if, if anything, it was a question of when or even how. I knew that if I kept at it, eventually I’d be able to light this thing on fire. And who’s to say there’s a right way to do it, either? It doesn’t bother me that Robert has given up doing it the “right way”, he now just uses a blow torch to light it. Why shouldn’t I just try anything? It’s persistence that matters.

So I rebuilt the wood structure. I added more paper, more logs and lit it with the lighter. The paper lit and burned, but the logs didn’t catch and the flames died out.

I swept out the cinders and ashes. I’ve learned that sometimes these things don’t light if there’s too much leftover burned matter in the fireplace. It doesn’t allow for the air to flow freely.

I rolled up some more paper. This time when I tried to light it, the lighter ran out of fuel and it doesn’t work. In order to get a spark I used some tongs to put some embers on the new paper. I blew and blew but it just went out.

Now I was down to matches. This is pretty sad considering even the blow torch doesn’t always succeed in lighting the fire. After fifteen strikes I finally got this twenty year old match to light and threw it in. No luck.

Now I’m pulling out all the stops. I’m adding kindling, my artificial fire starter which I hate to use, dog hair, whatever will burn. Still no fire.

I try putting a lot of paper in, lighting it and walking away. Sometimes these things need to be left alone for awhile. You just throw in a spark and let it do it’s own thing.

Not this time. This time it’s own thing is nothing.

It’s almost bedtime now. There isn’t even a point of starting this thing because I’m going to have to go to bed and then I’ll have to put it out. But I can’t help it. I want my dreams to come true. I’ve got to start it. I’m frustrated and irritated. If the thing doesn’t light, according to my game, technically I get no dreams. But I think I’ve circumvented the universe by offering my tenacious desire to make them happen. So that leaves me with one last choice. It’s not the blow torch because I don’t know how to use that and although I want to start a fire I don’t want to burn the house down. There’s no point in having dreams come true if they turn out to be nightmares. No, the only choice left is burn one of my precious giant pine cones. They come for San Jacinto a few hours away from here. Sally brought them back from her last trip. They are so beautiful I don’t want to burn them but I know that they burn beautifully. They’re filled with fire-loving, life-giving sap that should fuel the fire long enough to light up even the toughest old bark I’ve got. So that’s it. Time to make a sacrifice. Pine cone’s in. It’s lit, it’s burning, it’s snapping, it’s popping and crackling but the jury is still out on whether it’ll light one of these logs up or not. I sure hope it does because I’ve got nothing left to give this fire. They say forest fires can start with just a spark. That might be true. And maybe dreams come true that easily, too, occassionally, when the planets align and the opportunity takes over. But I’d say on the day-to-day genuine little fireplace-kind-0f-fire dream, it takes every trick in the book, hard work and some old-fashioned patience to get these things going. And maybe even that isn’t enough.

With blackened fingers and a smoke-filled chest I’m going to keep poking and fueling this thing until something gives. Either it’ll be that log, or me. But for all of you out there in Wonderland, I wish you bright burning dreams, everyone.

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