We call them cool. Those hearts that have no scars to show. The ones that never do let go. And risk the tables being turned. We call them fools who have to dance within the flame. Who chance the sorrow and the shame. That always comes with getting burned. But you’ve got to be tough when consumed by desire. Cause it’s not enough to stand outside the fire.
I used to listen to this song, “Standing Outside the Fire,” over and over to get my mind in the right place before a big tryout or soccer game. My Oklahoma roots may bias me a bit, but I think Garth Brooks is one of the most amazing songwriters ever. Yes, he’s had his fair share of cheesy honky-tonk music, but amidst that he had plenty of gems. His are some of the most inspiring lyrics I’ve ever laid ears on. This particular song acted as my cue to run all over the place and play with, as my coach put it, a sort of reckless abandonment. The lyrics fit so well.
Now hearing that song again, it’s taken on a slightly different meaning for my life. Probably, I’m hearing the obvious message Garth meant to relay all along- that to really live you can’t live in fear of what may happen.
We call them strong. Those who can face this world alone. Who seem to get by on their own. Those who will never take the fall. We call them weak. Who are unable to resist. The slightest chance love might exist. And for that forsake it all. They’re so hell-bent on giving. Walking a wire. Convinced it’s not living if you stand outside the fire.
At times, I worry about how I come across. I want to be the cool, together, fun, outstanding one. For some reason, I really want to come across well. Sometimes this is a great aspiration because it galvanizes me into action. I go out and accomplish things that I wouldn’t if I didn’t feel the need to hold myself together. However, other times, worrying about doing everything right and keeping myself out of dangerous emotional situations can keep me from the best parts of life- the exciting ones.
Life is not tried it is merely survived if you’re standing outside the fire.
In sports, an easy remedy to this mindset is to put yourself in situations where you will fail. Dribble through the cones as fast as you can to the point that you can lose control. Take as many shots as quickly as possible in 30 seconds. Go up against a player who’s a little bit bigger or more skillful than you are. Take yourself out of your comfort zone until it feels ordinary. Failure is just another day-to-day part of triumph.
My solution today is similar. I’m going to do as many scary things that I’m not good at (yet) as possible. I’m going to do at least two a week. I’ll enter a contest, run a race, say something I was holding back, and… I don’t know, volunteer for a lion refuge? I’m sure I’ll find plenty of things once I get going. I’ll try my best at everything I’m not sure I can handle, and I’ll fail a lot. Maybe I’ll even get a broken heart. I’ll practice letting go of my fears, and instead live with a little more reckless abandonment.
There’s this love that is burning. Deep in my soul. Constantly yearning to get out of control. Wanting to fly. Higher and Higher. I can’t abide. Standing outside the fire.