The song “Standing Outside the Fire” by Garth Brooks had always been one of my favorite songs growing up, but I never really understood what it was about until I got older. It would often play on the jukebox during lunchtime in high school and I started to grasp its meaning then, but it wasn’t until recently that I finally understood it even more.
Standing outside the fire, or, looking on as other people live and experience and love and laugh, is, in my opinion, a terrible epidemic. Many amazing people have been drawn into this type of living by accident and without even realizing it. They go about living their lives as if they are unable to make decisions, as if they are not allowed to fall from the “norm." Really, we’re all just afraid of failing, so we convince ourselves that if there’s a possibility we won’t be successful at whatever it is we want to do, we shouldn’t even try to do it.
The scariest thing that I can imagine is that you can live your life without ever really living at all. You can go day to day, year to year following a routine, a plan or someone else’s guidelines, and never get the chance to create your own life because of it.
We can have all these dreams and hopes of what our lives will look like, but until we are willing to take some chances and maybe get hurt, we won’t ever get to experience what we are capable of. We have the abilities to make our lives amazing; our lives can and should be as unique as every one of us. We don’t have to do incredible, outrageous things, but we do have to let go of our fear every now and then.
One of my favorite lines from the song is, “We call them fools, who have to dance within the flame. Who chance the sorrow and the shame, that always comes with getting burned.” I know I’ve had people question my dreams and try and hit me with their reality, but my answer to them is always the same. Why would I want to live a mediocre life and never try to live up to my full potential? Why should any of us want to?
We could easily play it safe our whole lives, settle for whatever it is we are given, maybe try to achieve a little more every now and then, but never actually chase after what we want. We may not get as hurt or confused or lost, but, is it worth the consequences?
We could let our lives happen as they may without ever trying to stand out and make a change. We could stand outside the fire and never get burned, laughing at those who do, but we’d never get to experience the heat of the flames, the light of the fire, or the joy of those who are inside the fire. I want to know what’s inside the fire. To me, that sounds a whole lot more like living than simply letting the fire burn.