Why Ideas Are Like Wood to a Fire

Fire is a metaphor for growth. Imagine that fire is you, at first small and vulnerable. But with each new idea, the fire grows.

“When the fire is strong, it soon appropriates to itself the matter which is heaped on it, and consumes it, and rises higher by means of this very material.” — Marcus Aurelius

Fire is a metaphor for growth.

Wood serves as fuel for the fire, as does an idea for personal growth. The fire grows stronger with each new log heaped upon it, as does a person with each new idea.

Imagine that fire is you, at first small and vulnerable. The ideas appropriated are equally small at first... the size and composition of kindling. Big ideas would overwhelm the fire. They would snuff it out.

But with each small idea, the fire grows.

It grows stronger, more demanding. The same small diet of ideas merely sustain. The fire wants more. It desires more. It hungers for more.

Feed it bigger, more complex ideas and the fire grows further still. The size and hunger increases in equal measure. Before long, you look in wonder at the towering flame that was once so small.

But then you begin to worry. How can you possibly continue feeding the fire when the ideas nearby are consumed?

You forage further away each day, and yet the fire demands still more. Feed the fire less and it withers. What was once strong, reverts in size and strength. You know instinctively this must not happen.

Then you begin to realize... ideas can be cultivated. No, they MUST be cultivated. Too few ideas dampen the fire, and the wrong ideas stunt growth. You need more, bigger in size and variety.

You plant the seeds of existing ideas. You tend them carefully. You cross-pollinate them with other ideas. Before long, you grow something new.

No more foraging. No more worrying. Ideas become plentiful and close at hand.

The fire licks hungrily at them and grows larger.