Campfire Skills

 One of my favorite things about this time of year is campfires. I build them quite often in my tipi and spend hours reading, writing, and thinking in their flickering presence. It’s so calming and fills me with a sense of peace.

I remember back when it took me a long time to start a fire. I’d work for ages at getting the kindling just right, then strike the matches and hold my breath as they began burning. I’d nurse the little flames along, adding a few twigs here and there and hoping I didn’t snuff it out. When the fire was finally going well enough that I could sit back and enjoy it I would heave a huge sigh of relief.

Nowadays I’ve perfected my craft. All I need is kindling, logs, a bit of cotton ball with a dab of petroleum jelly and my flint and steel. I’ve timed myself time after time and have cut down the duration of the fire starting process significantly. From the time I start working on the kindling until I have a fire at a place where it can last easily for seven or so hours with no additional care is six minutes and twenty seconds.

I pondered this morning how that’s how it is in so many areas of life: Tasks that were once a huge accomplishment are now reduced to a blink as I work the skills I’ve learned. Twenty years ago I couldn’t tie my shoes, now I do it without a thought. Fifteen years ago certain household chores took forever, now I do them while brainstorming for my next story. 
Ten years ago when I started writing I was horrible at spelling, at brainstorming, at crafting words on a page. My grammar was atrocious; I didn’t even know how to format the dialog. I would labor for hours, maybe even most of the day, to get a thousand words and would dance around the room in delight at having accomplished so much. 
I began timing myself. Began racing against first the clock, then against myself. I studied the craft, worked on perfecting my skills. I learned, asked questions, grew. I tried and tried again. And again, and again, and again. 

And all my labors paid off. I got better. Not just with writing, but with practically everything I do in life. Dishes? No problem. Making a meal? Sure. Sweeping the floor? Of course. Making conversation? Delighted. Writing a book? My pleasure. Living life? Still a challenge, but I’m tackling it.

My guess is that you could say the same thing. Whenever you’re discouraged about how slowly you’re learning a new skill set or frustrated because the little children in your life still need you to tell them to wash their hands, remember that this is just a season, it’s the way life works. One day you’ll be able to look back and realize you’re waayy beyond that annoying place now. You’re on the other side of the learning hump and you’re steadily climbing upward.

Life is a process and we all learn and grow. Just because something is difficult and takes all your mind energy right now doesn’t mean it’s always going to be that way. You’re going to conquer new mountains, move up to greater heights. You are amazing and your actions today can set in motion change that will effect the whole world for the better.

Your life matters, and what you do today matters, too. 

3 thoughts on “Campfire Skills

  1. Evy Cartyr says:

    I'm on one of those climbs right now. I am struggling with jobs and writing and learning things about myself. It's a nice reminder that it won't last, that someday there will be a top and then a down.


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