Phoenix Rising by Ellen Starr

Phoenix Rising by Ellen Starr

Our cultural emphasis on the triumphant part of the story, where one powers through adversity to rise heroically in short course does us all a great disservice. It misses the long and painful part of the story where we’re being cooked by the flames – and while the things we love are being burned down to ashes, we are all the way left behind by the world.

In the old way, you’d be expected to listen to your elders telling of such epic odysseys that you’d never get anywhere fast and your food would always go cold for the long prayers that are owed to your ancestors’ endurance.

And eventually you’d come to know the stories by heart because they’d wiggle down into your bones and take life in the landscape; in the fire and the lakes, and the mountains your people have named because they’ve earned the right by crossing them.

And when your time comes, as it does for all of us – to be cooked – you’d know that you aren’t the first to be chosen by the fire and it will hurt for as long as it takes, and the only way through is with your heroics humbled.