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Fire and Ice

Updated: 04/03/2014 @ 2:33pm

Last week I ate habanero-mango ice cream.

I saw it on a restaurant menu and decided on the spot that I might never get the chance again, so I ordered it. After all, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to eat more ice cream in 2014, and I’m running short of flavors I haven’t tried.

I’m still trying to decide if it was the best ice cream I ever had, or the worst.

It was sweet and cold and refreshing, and left the delicate taste of mango on my tongue. Then the habanero would kick in and suddenly my mouth was on fire.

And then I’d take another bite.

Life is like that. Things can sail along; kind of cool and sweet, and without warning everything is fire and heat, a burning sensation to the tip of your toes. That’s often followed by vague feelings of wonder over whether what you’re feeling is good or bad.

That’s OK.

A little fire, a little ice - together that’s what makes a life worth living.

I get cranky with people who don’t understand that.

And a lot of people don’t.

I’m not saying you should abandon children and other responsibilities to go off and climb Mount Everest or do other overly dangerous things. Some folks say to do the dangerous stuff in order to prove your manhood. That seems kind of boyish to me. I think the purest proof of manhood is how well you’ve taken care of the people who depend on you. Running with the bulls at Pamplona would be exciting, but putting your kids through college makes you more of a man, in my book. And just doing that can make the sweat run down your back faster than parachuting from a burning blimp.

On the other hand, I look around and see people who’ve settled for . . . not very much of anything and then look forward to retiring and doing even less. That’s not very attractive to me either.

I’m no kind of adventurer - I don’t really believe in adventures.  

I’ve been some places and done some things in my life, but I’ve always felt that most adventures are the result of poor planning and, if nothing else, I’m a planner. But I do enjoy seeing places I’ve never seen and trying things I’ve never tried.  Life isn’t about soaking in a lukewarm bath, spending your time in a house where the thermostat is nailed to 72 degrees. It’s about every now and then tasting the cold and daring some fire.

I have been in a monogamous relationship since 1973 (married 39 years last Sunday, thanks for asking) and that whole time I’ve earned a reasonable living, paid my bills, and took my turn as an usher in church. I’ve lived in the same house since 1976, and if luck breaks my way, it’s where I’ll die. Clearly I know about the sweet and the soft, the gentle and the cool.

But I know a little about fire, too. And that’s important.

Copyright 2013 Brent Olson

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