If I can wax poetic for a moment, there's a voice in my head. It's me, of course - what else would it be doing there? - but not the me-that-is. It's a me-that-was, or a me-that-might-have-been. The version of myself that could comfortably dwell behind a desk, viewing the world through panes of glass for the rest of his life. He doesn't understand me-that-is.
The accountant runs his audits. He dwells on questions of worth, demanding to know where I get the values I ascribe to things. Half-marvelling at the prices I'll pay for the given reward.
He doesn't understand. He can't understand, because he's never lived. A million lives, perhaps. He lives in his own way - vicariously through the voices inhis head, the voices he crafts. Those voices never talk back, never tell harsh truths. He will not grow - except sideways.
I live. Every day I jump headlong into the fire and every day I crawl back out. Some days, I am invigorated. Those days I breathe deep and the fire draws into my lungs. It suffuses me, powers me. The sparks kindle deeper, inner fires. That is the prize. There is nothing tangible. A living may be earned a hundred ways, but there is no drug that can match the burning of kindled passions.
Some days, I crawl back out broken and bruised, my shell cracking under the heat.The fire makes fools of us. It is our workhorse, but also our undoing. Most never learn to breathe it. Those that can simply burn less than others. These days, I come home and let the ash form weak ink at the bottom of my shower and I just hope that soap is salve enough to fill the cracks. Bruised pride heals, maybe. But you don't care if it would, because eventually the burning will outpace the burns and you won't have to answer that question.
But whether I burn or get burned, I live. I walk among the flames and find peace, or don't. It is a strange idea, to turn to the voices outside your head to do your thinking, but in it, there is a certain reward. You pay the price of liberty and earn instead leadership. It's liberating, not to think. To do without thinking contains a certain satori, that zen-high which both of me chase.
That, it turns out, is all we have in common. We have our own prices. Burns and blood and ink-stained fingers.
I, alone, grow. Even the me-that-would-be knows that he had no chance of becoming me-that-is without the fire.
Blisters will callous. Short fuses burn away. Order up.