I wish I could tell you that we began, as a species, on fire, and only learned to put ourselves out some twenty thousand years ago, after which we forgot what it meant to be on fire, and that now we are wounded by it.
That would be a lie, though. I would never lie to you, reader.
I would like, even more, to mention to you the way we were so proud, back then, to learn how not to be on fire, all overjoyed at the prospect of agriculture and tool use and writing and gathering food without making forest files. How excited we all got, the nervous plans we made, the endless naïve possibilities that thrilled us.
It would be my bittersweet pleasure to tell you of the time, decades later, when we realized what we had lost, and that the world could be cold, and dark, and confusing. I might mention the embarrassing, almost comedic, moments when we first encountered uncooked food and had to decide if we liked it or not. I would feel compelled to admit that moment of horror when we first touched fire again and found that it hurt us now, that we could never return.
Then, perhaps, I might tell you that, though our brains do not remember what it was like to be on fire, our mitochondria still holds the memory somehow, and that is why we long for fire when we see it, why we describe a person who lives fully as having a heart full of fire, and why we built fire places for ourselves.
I would tell you that once we were fire people, and now, instead, we must content ourselves with fire places, and perhaps even fire things.
But it would be untrue, and callous as well. I am sitting in a land now that is threatened by fire. I have smelled fire all day, thick with the perfume of cedar and the memory of a pleasant barbecue, or perhaps some ancestral call to warmth. I have to stop and remind myself that this is a very real tragedy. Fire is hurting us, and we have to be vigilant against it.
Perhaps instead we were made of ice all along.