Matches and campfires

One of my favorite stories is a short poem, called “The little match girl” by Hans Christian Anderson. The story follows a young girl who sells matches to provide money for her family. On a cold evening, she couldn’t find any buyers for her matches; so, she stayed late in the cold to try and sell her wares. This would help her avoid a beating from her father.

Desperate, penniless and cold, she huddled in a small alleyway and lit a match to keep herself warm. For a blissful second, she was taken away and found herself sitting in front of a warm stove.

In the morning, they found her dead body, fingers still clutching a single match. It’s a heartbreaking story. I hope you take the time to read it (link).

This story stood out to me because it reminded me of the way I’ve sought out personal fulfillment and satisfaction; expressed through life experiences, relationships, and the way I spend time.

Matches are quick to light and flare brightly for a short second. However, they won’t keep you warm without something of substance to catch their fire.

I’m reminded a lot about relationships (romantic, platonic, business, etc.) as they pertain to this idea. Over the years, I’ve chased quick bursts of infatuation that looked a lot like fireworks, while lacking anything of substance. This has looked like fancy offices (without revenue), relationships (void of love), and keeping busy without having anything tangible to show for it.

In order to build something that will last, you have to first count the cost and ask yourself if you’re willing to go the distance. Nate frequently reminds me that life is a lot like climbing a mountain; some people will stop at base camp and never climb. Others will stop halfway up the mountain. Very few actually make it to the summit. Often, the people that you find there aren’t the same ones that started with you.

So, how do you figure out if somebody is climbing the mountain with you or just lighting a proverbial match to catch your attention? Ask yourself if you’re feeding your ego or nurturing your soul. 

Next, look back on your life and try to examine your choices through the above filter. Give yourself grace, mercy, and forgiveness to accept what has been done and accept yourself for all of the choices you’ve made. Every day isn’t a trophy day, nor is it supposed to be.

Today, I accept myself and all of the choices I’ve made. I made them with the tools and resources I had at the time. I offer others the same grace and mercy that I have first offered myself. I’m deserving of the best the universe has in store for me and will listen patiently until I hear the song of my heart.

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