Posted on January 10, 2020
What fire can give (words from an optimist)
At times like this we become acutely aware of what fire can take away and how fragile our existence is. The current bushfires in Australia have devastated forests, destroyed property, taken life and choked our (and even New Zealand’s) skies with smoke.
But as these fire take away, they are also in the process of giving. The reduced tree canopy and nutrient rich ash provides the best possible conditions for new growth to emerge. Nature already knows this. Seeds from Eucalyptus, Acacias and Banksia require the intense heat of bushfires for their seeds to germinate and the presence of smoke improves the germination rate of some other Australian plants by 16,000%. Just two years after the bushfires that burnt 90% of Kinglake National Park in 2009, 60 previously unrecorded plant species were found in the park, many of their seeds having laid dormant in the soil for decades or more.
I’ve been wondering what it would mean to apply the concept of fire to my work. If my work was to metaphorically catch fire what would be resilient enough to survive the blaze? What would I genuinely miss if it was gone? And what new and beautiful things might grow in the space that was created?
Being hundred of kilometres away from the bushfires I can’t truly understand the overwhelm and sense of loss that people in these fire ravaged communities are dealing with. As an optimist, all I can hope is that even clouds of smoke have a silver lining.