As I posted previously (December 19, 2011: Winter Solstice), I’d long planned to destroy my old journals. B. helped me carry a heavy bagload to San Francisco’s Ocean Beach on a warm, drizzly winter night. We located a fire pit, and filled it. White-capped waves and the lights of ships out at sea caught my eye, roar of surf and the mournful high wail of a nearby foghorn in my ear. A couple flicks of the lighter, and the pile was alight. An adjacent group cheered when our flames leaped skyward, and I rejoiced in seeing a past that was painful – and self-pitying, petty, and complaining – melt away. The idea of moving heavy baggage (in more ways than one) yet again – after years of carting it from place to place – was unacceptable. Not to mention, the thought of anyone seeing writings not meant for other eyes was more than I could bear.
The fire sculpted flowers, scrolls, and other fantastical shapes out of the curling pages, all flaming out in their own way just as different wooden logs burn up individually, breaking down to their most basic structures. Out of destruction comes creation: new year, new creativity, new life. As the temperature dropped we danced like pagans around the flames to keep warm, making sure that every last page was engulfed in the flames. Prometheus (the Greek Titan who stole fire) would have been proud. Soon a ranger came and told us to put the fire out, it was past eleven o’clock and time for all good little pyros to go home to bed. We walked back to B.’s truck, the water far out from shore now at low tide. The crescent moon, rendered a glorious orange by our atmosphere, disappeared behind the mist, quickly sank and dipped below the horizon around midnight. Orion, Taurus, the Pleiades and Cassiopeia winked at us, as did the lighthouse at Pt. Bonita, jutting out on the Marin Headlands across the inhospitable Strait of the Golden Gate. It was just so beautiful. For a fanciful moment, I imagined the twinkling lights of a small boat near shore was someone lost to me long ago. Then, my heart felt strengthened – as if re-forged in the fire – and lightened of a heavy, heavy past. Imagine, such rough magic here, at the very edge of the world!