Standing Outside the Fire


I love holidays. I especially love them when it means that I get to stay at home on a Monday. Long weekends are the best, but I’ll take a day off whenever they give it to me to be perfectly honest.

As Monday was Labor Day, I was able to drive a couple hours up to my friends’ house for our annual Labor Day cookout. When I say the weather was great, I’m not kidding. I was in jeans and a T-shirt and was perfect until it became evening when we decided to go out by the fire. I was a little chilly. Perfect weather.

I’ve sat around several campfires with friends and family over the years. Usually we sit around and talk and laugh and cook completely unhealthy food, but with this group of friends there’s a totally different tradition.

We sing.

Correction. They sing.

They sing these songs that I’ve never heard. They’re crazy. And as I’m sitting here racking my brain, for the life of me I can’t even remember how any of them go. But you sit there and listen and you can’t help but laugh. Fact is, you can’t walk away from the fire in a bad mood unless someone had thrown you in.

So here we were in the middle of a good-sized town in central Illinois, surrounded by neighbors, sitting around a fire pit and singing songs that I’d swear they were making up on the spot if there weren’t 5 people singing them in unison. It was one of those moments where 15 year ago, I would have been totally embarrassed.

I don’t know what it is about some people. There are some people who walk through this world behind a mask trying to do the right thing, to say the right thing and to make everyone like them. These are the people who probably wouldn’t be caught dead singing around a campfire in the middle of town.

There there are those people who, whether you’re comfortable or not, make you feel welcome. They make a fire and invite you in to stay warm. They know who they are, and they’re okay with it, and when you’re with them, they make you feel okay with who you are, too, even if it’s for a short time.

They’re gold.

They way I see it, life it too short to stand outside the fire and watch everyone have a good time and be comfortable with one another. Sometimes you’ve just got to jump right in the middle of it and start making ridiculous sound effects for the songs they’re singing just to be in the comfort of friends.

After all, I think Garth Brooks said it best: “Life is not tried. It is merely survived when you’re standing outside the fire.”

Jump in.

Act a fool.

Learn a ridiculous campfire song.

Get comfortable.

Life’s too short not to engage.

About the author