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Burn: to sizzle, scorch, fry, crackle, incinerate, turn to ash.

Burn: to cook too long, at too high a heat, be careless with fire.

Burn: to singe your skin, melt cells, merge sinew.

Burn: to use up, transfer energy from one state to another, watch solids fade to steam.

Burnout: a condition of extinguishment, when the wick has run out, the embers faded, the star burned through.

The thing about the act of burning is it destroys only a shape, impermanent to begin with. It disassembles. Not unlike a caterpillar in a cocoon, dissolved to paste only to be remolded. Not unlike a star, flung into disparate corners of the universe to make a planet, a foot, a piece of cake—stardust, all.

We are undone, the energy from one shape of ourselves spent and released like ether.

And so it is when we work ourselves down to the wick, collapse in on ourselves, our beds, our couches, a plot of grass at the park to feel the radiation of a special kind of star and watch ladybugs surf across blades in the breeze. We are undone, the energy from one shape of ourselves spent and released like ether.

The mistake is in expecting otherwise, assuming we are unlike the rest of the beasts, immune to the practicalities of physics. It’s in our disappointment when we realize such dreams are simply not so.

The fairytale is not the phoenix, but the belief that the phoenix is special, when it is simply a metaphor for everything.

Let it burn out, burn through, crumble like ash, escape like steam in the wind. Take your time with your bed and your ladybugs before you light the next match.

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