The Lantern and the Fire

First of all, listen to this song. The entire post is taken from one of the lyrics.

Given it a listen? Good. Now, the lyric I want to focus on is “Is it easier to be the lantern or the fire?” I find this question to be an extremely intriguing one. Which is harder, to be the thing burning, or the thing that holds and directs the fire? Or to put this in more human terms, is it easier to be a force itself, changing things and affecting them for good or ill, or to be the person directing the force, containing and controlling it and showing it where to go? I suppose oftentimes it’s hard to separate the two. But think of it like this. There’s a large company of individuals. One or two of these individuals have a lot of power and influence. But what could they do without the support of everyone else in the company? Very little, just as a fire without something to contain it would do little good, and would in fact destroy its surroundings. The “lanterns” in the company would naturally tend to look at the “fires” as having it easier than themselves, as being privileged because of their positions. But then the “fires” would look at the “lanterns” and with they could be free of their confines… granted, it’s not a perfect metaphor. Just something intriguing to think about, I suppose.

I guess it’s rather difficult to say which is “better.” There’s advantages and disadvantages to each. I think being either for too long is probably not healthy. It’s good to have times where you’re a lantern, lest you become too proud, and times where you’re a fire, lest you become bored and begin to lose sight of your own significance. But then you have to wonder, what if some people are made to be lanterns and others are made to be fires? A lantern itself is not designed to become a fire when it gets tired of being a lantern, and it’d be quite impossible for fire to suddenly take a solid form and contain a different fire within itself. I suppose people do tend to have a propensity for one or the other, and most people change between lantern and fire depending on the area of their life, I believe. One might be a bit of a fire amongst one’s friends, but as lantern-like as could be while at work.

Now what happens if the fire begins to burn the lantern, or if the lantern smothers the fire? We can see this in life, I think. It happens when someone who was a bright spark is stifled by society, when his ideas are ignored or batted down as silliness and when he’s silenced by the grind of day-to-day life. But the fire burns the lantern when one with brilliant, mad ideas drags hundreds of other people down with him, destroys things on a large scale because of his own manias. Maybe Van Gogh was smothered by the lantern, while Stalin burned it.

For my own part I must say that I can’t choose between the two. Sometimes it’s better to be a lantern, but other times one must burn bright. I don’t know. I think you have to learn to be both, as unnatural as it may sometimes be.

On another note, Mariee Sioux is awesome. Listen to the rest of that album and buy it. Really haunting and beautiful music, I love her imagery. Anyway, there you go, a bit of random musing from me (which has nothing whatsoever to do with procrastinating on what I should be writing, let me assure you). Enjoy I guess.

~ Jared


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