You spend all this time chopping logs and gathering leaves and breaking sticks up into itty bitty pieces...and then you crouch down low on your knees and put all the tiny pieces together and fashion them into a miniature teepee. You light a match. And you sit there on your haunches leaning over the wispy smoke with your nose and forehead so close to the ground you can smell the dirt. You blow tenderly, ever so softly, and try to coax the leaves to light the baby sticks, to light the bark.
One tiny ember is a sure sign of hope. You give the faint spark some air and feed it a leaf and beg it to grow...grow! And then the leaf catches and you pray the sticks will join before the leaves burn out--and all the while this pile of stuff you're working with is no bigger than your fist. Pint-sized. You keep blowing into the little space and dropping more baby sticks inside...and then you hear the popping. One pop, then another, then it's like the whole stick orchestra has sprung to life. It's music to your ears. "Keep popping," you plead.
Still, no flames.
Just smoke. Billowy smoke, now. The kind of smoke that assures you the leaves have burned out and the sticks are getting hot. Your eyes sting--and water. You can still smell the dirt. Anyone from a distance would think you'd gone mad. Face an inch from the ground, on all fours, blowing little puffs of air into a pile of damp rubble that, for all intents and purposes, is just a stack os sticks. But you know better. You can feel the heat, see the thin line of billowing smoke rise and then get carried away by the wind before it ever crests over the top of the fire ring.
You know there's hope. You, only you, can see the single orange ember holding all the Life. You're near enough to notice. And so you keep coaxing and feeding and blowing. You know that once the ember gets hot, the sticks will alight with embers of their own--one spark turning into two, into ten, into a whole flame.
The popping gets louder, and a stick catches; the flame too faint to be seen by anyone but you. Because you're the one who has drawn near. The one who has chosen to stick it out. You guard the burning stick with your entire being; your body between it and the breeze. You lean over it and catch the raindrops on your back, because you know the stick's flame is still fragile. It cannot yet handle a wet teardrop.
You gather more sticks. These, slightly larger. You stack them around the one with the flame, and you bend low and blow oxygen. Your breath is the fuel the pile needs. It needs your presence to get going. If you leave, it will smoulder and fade--its few sparks lost to abandonment.
So, you stay. And you stack. The medium sticks catch fire, and now it's hot in the pit. You back away and grab some logs. You can trust the pile, now. It's hot enough to stand on its own, for a while.
Gently, you stack big logs around the growing, flaming pile. The flames lick at the bark and then the big logs give off fire of their own. You stand back. Friends gather. Food gets brought out. The Thing is now strong enough to keep itself aflame. It will burn on its own. You can eat your breakfast and take a walk and go for a swim and when you return, the logs will still be alight.
Every so often, you add more fuel.
But that's all the pile requires of you, now.
It has found a life of its own.
The sticks just needed Someone patient enough to Stay while they only smoked...Someone with enough foresight to see the one ember and Believe it could...would...light the night.