Tending The Inner Fire ~ Reflections On The Eve of The New Year

December 31, 2015 § 29 Comments

Happy New Years magical gif

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” ~ Basho

“It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” ~ Ursula K. Le Guin

“Do not conform to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” ~ Romans 12:2

Greetings, fellow questers! I’m thrilled to be writing to you today, on the eve of 2016, because it means we have survived another year, and find ourselves poised on the cusp of a fresh opportunity to thrive.

Transformation, art, Taylor James, human metamorphosis, site credit: http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/human-metamorphosis-15-pics

The year in global news has not been pretty, to put it lightly. In fact, it has been chilling. Senseless violence (which is perhaps a redundant term) seems to be spreading across the globe.

We argue about the causes & debate the solutions, while political pundits & other power hungry puppeteers exploit our fears to further self-serving agendas.

But we must not lose heart: the more dark the world, the more important our light.

Glow in the dark, art

Of course, “darkness” & “light” are placeholder terms, representing far more complex, elusive ideas. In this context, I’m using the metaphor of darkness as a stand-in for violence, cruelty, abuse; and “light” as a stand-in for what affirms life, is constructive & lifts us up.

They are insufficient metaphors, but they’ll do for now. All words are but placeholders, signifying ideas whose scope language can not contain, but only nod towards—yet we must not confuse the finger pointing at the moon with the moon itself.


The metaphor of darkness & light is a useful one in this context.

For darkness itself is not a presence, but an absence of light (reminding us that cruelty only thrives where empathy & awareness are not cultivated). It also extends to our own inner essence: like a fire we can either ignore it while it dims to an ember, or tend it, feed it tinder & blow on the flame. Even the most neglected fire, when fed, can again rise to its former glory & beyond.

And all it takes is a single struck match to illuminate a dark room.

sparkler gif

And so it becomes more important than ever, in this climate of fear & anxiety that dominates the world at this time, to tend the inner fire.

Only by turning inward can we increase the strength of our own luminosity (awareness, personal power, realization of our potential), which we can then turn outward to better light the world.

from Stellar Series by Ignacio Torres, www.ignacio-torres.com/projects/stellar/#

Yet where there is pain, there is the urge to numb, and society is right there with a bevy of opportunities to do so: from social media to comfort “fast” food. Smart phones may increase communication, but they also literally put a world of distraction at our fingertips, and so isolation—from our inner selves, from other people—is also increased.

The turning toward distraction, interrupted by soundbites of traumatizing world & local news, becomes a self-feeding cycle of despair. And the further we feel from ourselves, the more we seek solace in escape.

We must interrupt this cycle in whatever way makes the most sense to us, in context of our lives. The eve of the new year is the perfect time to reflect on what form this might take for us.

nature and human, woman ocean, you are somebody

I have more to say on these subjects & I look forward to exploring them in future posts— offering up my own struck match in the forthcoming months of 2016. But for now I’ll just wish you an illuminating new year….And leave you with the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Happy 2016, fellow travelers!  Here’s to feeding the inner fire; to lighting up the night!

"Stellarscapes" by Oriol Angrill Jordà


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§ 29 Responses to Tending The Inner Fire ~ Reflections On The Eve of The New Year

  • easysqueeze says:

    Really love getting emails of your posts. Thank you for the reminders and positive reinforcements. May you continue to find joy and appreciation in each moment of your days! :))))


    • Tai Carmen says:

      Your positive feedback feeds MY inner fire. So thank YOU!

      May 2016 bring you all good things.
      On on!!


    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad to know the updates provide a little bright spot in your inbox. 🙂 That is definitely the goal!

      On on!


  • ravenharper says:

    Amen to that! Thank you Tai for your thoughtful and inspiring words, and for being a light in a time of darkness.

  • Interesting: I was just reflecting on 2015 and was starting to feel rather down about all this violence. Your post helped turn that around, although you did not try to sugarcoat anything.

    We certainly are at a decisive point in history, both for human society and our non-human cohorts. On the surface it seems like things got much worse in 2015, but I’m not so sure. I have been coming across an increasing amount of people, yourself included, who give me hope. These are people who renounce violence and the injustices that are tied to it, and people who are beginning to realize that we are all connected. Not just to each other; but to the ecosystems we are enmeshed in.

    2016 will be a turning point: I have no doubt about that. If we continue to spread messages like the one you have so beautifully written, I think it will be the start of a challenging but worthwhile journey towards a better future.

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I was following a related line of thought moments before reading your comment, a serendipity like an arrow that says “truth here.” It felt like a lot of people were “waking up” and then suddenly all this violence… A mass traumatization occurs. We are back under the spell of psychological enlsavement. Whether this is unwitting on our parts or intentional on someone else’s and to what degree is a subject for speculation (and perhaps a future blog post!)

      But what we know for sure is that we have seen an increase in consciousness & awareness, and then recently, too, an increase in depressing, destabilizing violence. Which sort of blasts us off our center, doesn’t it. Like dethroned kings & queens we find ourselves sputtering & groping in the dirt for our crowns, as it were. Because the world is reflecting back to us an image of something very dark & scary; all of our beautiful dreams must have been foolish, it seems to say.

      But we must keep dreaming them. We must push on. Because I have a feeling it’s like in the Matrix, when the closer Neo got to the key, the more agents appeared; from a certain perspective it appears things are getting worse, but it’s only because the narrative arc of history-in-the-making is approaching some kind of breakthrough. 😉

      Here’s to fanning the flame of awareness & staying awake in the dream. The dream of setting humanity free must stay alive if it is to have a chance.

      On on!


      • To continue the Matrix analogy, waking up is an extremely uncomfortable experience: especially for those of us who come from privileged backgrounds. It is so uncomfortable that some people would rather stay enslaved.

        All this violence is disheartening, but I’m not overly surprised by it. The world has been too unequal for too long, and some of the violence we’ve recently seen is a product of that. Anger over mistreatment has been building up for generations, and all this religious rhetoric is a way of justifying it in culturally-relevant terms.

        As I told Rod, I also believe some of this violence to be a push-back from those who feel like they’re losing power. It is essentially an attempt to shock us back into submission.

        But like you said we must push on…and we must remain nonviolent. This will be a painful period of growth, but if we persevere the world will be better for it. Maybe not for ourselves, but for those who come after us.

      • Tai Carmen says:

        I could not agree more. So well articulated, Josh. Thank you. Yes. It is definitely all these things—the horrors have been happening this whole time, of course. We were just collectively compartmentalizing them. But they have grown too obvious to ignore. And it’s uncomfortable. But necessary to keep our eyes open if are to function with maximum effect, as we long to in our hearts.

        Thanks for being part of this conversation. May the flow & the force be with you in 2016!

      • Rod says:

        I agree that the controllers are losing control and that is why things are getting more chaotic. They are pushing back. And they are racing towards the finish line with their agenda because their window of opportunity is closing.

        It’s hard for people to wake up and change, especially when they feel that if they can just keep to themselves and stay in their comfort zone, they will be left alone. That may have worked in the past, but it will be unavoidable that everyone will affected by what is coming.

        What’s interesting is that collective human behavior can change quite rapidly when faced with a mass crystallizing event. And in that moment, humanity is going to be faced with a decision (in the next year and a half). A very sobering decision. That in itself will be enough to wake people up.

        I have faith that we will make the right decision. The iffy part is what’s going to happen between now and that time. It could be a rocky ride. So, just be the observer and keep your head.


    • Rod says:

      I agree. Tai wrote an inspiring post. And there is nothing wrong with calling it like it is.

      I think 2016 will be the most important year in U.S. history, and perhaps also in human history. It’s encouraging that people are waking up to what’s going on in the world. But, I think if there is not more of a shift in consciousness in the coming year, the world could take a dangerous turn.

      However, I have faith in humanity. I think we will make it, although the next year and a half could be a rollercoaster ride.



      • The next year-and-a-half will be incredibly challenging. This change in consciousness is starting to happen because it has to: we’ve reached a point where there is no better alternative. I think all of this violence and environmental degradation is evidence of that.

        It’s also going to be a challenging time because there are always those who resist change. One of the key characteristics of human society (which I’ve been writing about on my blog) is that we divide ourselves into subgroups, and each group has different statuses. When one or more groups begins to change, it threatens the superior status of the dominant group(s). That group could maintain its positive identity by redefining the criteria by which it evaluates itself, but more often than not they seek to maintain the status quo through in-group bias; which can result in oppression. And oppression can lead to violence.

        What all this rambling means is that as more people push for a more inclusive and responsible society, there will likely be a push-back from those who feel like they’re losing power. I think this is why the US saw a surge in blatant racism in 2015 (unless it’s just because the media gave it more attention).

        But like you I think we’ll make it. For one thing we have to. From a historical perspective the evolution of human society has also been in a generally positive direction. There have been remarkable setbacks and constant trials, but we seem to be slowly moving towards greater compassion. Now we have to speed things up.

      • Tai Carmen says:

        Hear, hear! Again so beautifully articulated. I have your blog bookmarked like an exciting goody set aside for later. I can already tell it will be a treat! I think the dynamic you’re describing is undeniable & this systematizes it so well. A very helpful breakdown. I wrote about an elementary version of this in my post: “Human Dignity & The Meaning of Difference.” The idea of status & group identity is key to understanding the oppression & power struggles that have characterized humanity since the dawn of history—and deconstructing the absurdity of that bias will be key to dismantling the psychological enlsavement of the collective. Thanks again for weighing in with these enriching insights.

  • Rod says:

    Nice post.

    At the end of every year I like to create the year ahead. I write down several things I would like to experience in the coming year and then focus on each item by saying it slowly three times in my mind. You would be surprised how well it works.

    You can even do it for several days straight. Works great.

    Thanks for the post. Have a joyous New Year.


    • Tai Carmen says:

      Great idea! Thanks, Rod. I’ll try that. 🙂

      Glad you liked the post. Thanks for telling me. 🙂
      May 2016 bring you all good things.
      On on!


  • Alan says:

    Thanks for another thought provoking post.

    As Martin Luther King once said:

    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thank you, Alan, for that gift of a quote. I had forgotten it & what an apt time to be reminded. Thank you. 🙂

      May 2016 treat you well!

      On on,

    • Tai Carmen says:

      I may just have to add it to the post! Could not be more aligned. Thanks again!

  • Bob says:

    Often as not, we can only clearly see what’s happening around us and to us with the perspective of hindsight. Some are gifted with an imagination that can predict the future fairly well (prophesy, if you prefer), but their words are seldom heeded. So, we have to turn inward if we are to discern which of our skills will be needed most and which of others will need to be acquired or cultivated. The illustration above of the woman apparently emerging from the chrysalis of her own skin seems to me an important clue for negotiating the future. It seems it has been our responsibility as a race to become fully incarnated, fully aware by consuming all manner of knowledge to feed our intellectual appetites. It may be our responsibility in the future to transcend the intellect and its treasure of worldly knowledge, to silence the internal narration that gives voice to the intellect. On a spiritual level we may need to undergo a kind of metamorphosis, leaving behind the shell of defunct narratives and emerging into being of a nature yet to be discovered. All I can predict is that we may only undertake this journey with deep compassion and without fear.

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thank you, Bob, for this beautifully shared thought. I completely agree. We must turn inward to become the best, most aligned versions of ourselves, which in turn will show us how to best steer the collective towards a better future. Inspired work, as we know, has ten times the effect of work that simply gropes in the dark.

      It is a absolutely a time to shed defunct narratives (love that phrase) & we can only evolve & renew by engaging directly with inner metamorphosis towards a more realized self…one that has been waiting, it would appear, like a seed for spring.

      Best of luck to you in 2016.
      And may your metamorphosis always be inspired.

      On on,


  • Angela says:

    I really enjoy your site. I think we are kindred spirits, as even some of your image choices and phrasing look and sound like my own. For sure, we speak on the same subjects! Happy New Year, and I look forward to reading more.

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Boy, you were right! Checked out your site & we are definitely picking up the same heartsong on the etheric winds!

      On on!

  • Kristine Rudow says:

    When we open the door to the awareness of darkness within ourselves we see also the life and joy that lies dormant inside this darkness. We also see all ills of the world lies within us as well. All we have to do is recognize this to begin a healing not only of our soul, but of the world’s soul.

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thank you for being part of the conversation, Kristin! And for your wise & thoughtful notes.

      I think our souls themselves are the healing agents & it is because we have become disconnected from them in our modern way of living that we suffer.

      Here’s to healing ourselves & contributing to world healing; to embodying our souls more than ever in 2016!

      On on!


    • Tai Carmen says:

      Kristen! I am excited to tell you that you are the winner of this year’s raffle. If you would like to email me an address at tai@taicarmen.com I would love to send you some special talismans for the new year.

      On on,


  • Alissa says:

    I agree. In the wake of trauma and tragedy, I think taking some time to personally reflect, grieve, and, as you say, “tend to the inner fire,” is absolutely vital.

    I make it a mission to discuss current events in the classroom. Last term, we discussed the Umpqua Community College shooting, which happened in Roseburg, Oregon, in October. Many students in the class talked about the need for systemic change–new gun laws, school security checks, affordable mental health care, etc. However, one student spoke to what you are saying here. It was a memorable moment in the class because this particular student–her name is Elisama–was very shy and never talked in class. Anyway, after everyone gave their answers, Elisama raised her hand and said, confidently, “I think it’s important that people take time to reflect personally on the experience, so that each of us can change for the better. I think that if we all committed to change within ourselves, then there would be less violence in the world.” She spoke with great poise and conviction, making a real impact on others in the class (myself included).

    Thanks for this post! It is an inspiring way to reflect meaningfully on 2015 and welcome in the new year.

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thank you for sharing this beautiful story, Alissa. 🙂

      I think it almost feels too easy—and at the same time, too hard—that TODAY we can start healing the world, simply by turning our attention inward towards reflection & self-improvement. (As Lau Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”)

      I love that it came from a shy girl who didn’t often speak up, but who spoke in this moment with poise & conviction: gives the insight even more power. Love it!

      On on!


  • Tai Carmen says:

    And the winner of the New Year’s raffle is….Kristin Rudow! Thank you all for these enriching comments. I am so honored to have heard from each & every one of you, in discussion of this most important subject: the future of humanity & what we can do to help.

    On on, brave travelers!


  • 64doors says:

    It can be a bit controversial in subject to say that there is a reason for the suffering of the world, but I believe this to be true. As a species it’s essential that we begin observing the world from a bigger picture, and recognise suffering for the benefit that it brings.
    We did, indeed, ask to be here. We asked to be physical, and to take on challenges that only physicality could provide. Every challenge here on planet Earth was asked for by he or she who is experiencing. I, myself, can contend that every horrific thing that’s ever happened to me has only made me better…because I chose to grow from the experience. We can choose to be bitter and be well justified for it, or we can choose to learn the leson that hardship and change cause. Both are equal paths, for if we choose to be embittered it means we wish for further proof of what peace we seek. Some lessons are infinitely harder than others, but this only shows that the hardest lessons are making bigger change in those that asked for them.
    That there is an increasing amount of violence in the world only means that there are an increasing number of humans that are wanting change. Violence, sadly, is how humans perceive that change can be made, and while it will not be pretty, and while we will observe many innocent people suffering, their suffering is not in vain.
    Though there is no need for violence it shall be, therefore it is up to these Lightgivers to ease the process as much as is, literally, humanly possible. However, there is a larger~than~man Light that moves through those who open to it.
    While some people feel the drive to go out into the world and help as many as possible, service comes in many forms. Few people realize the power of a smile, or the immense wave of peace that passes from one man to another with a simple nod of acknowledgment. I, myself, on several occasions have been having a bad day until someone smiled at me, or let me through in line, or payed for my ticket anonymously. I then went on to give to others and change other lives. The smallest kindness, like a smile, a hand, a kind word, can emit a wave that ends up touching twenty people or more. One smile can keep a person from committing suicide that day. I, myself, have been that one.
    It is things like this that we do not realize. Bit by bit we change the world, we spread what is inside of us to others.
    If the majority of people want war, or starvation, or murder as their conduit of change, we cannot stop it. We can only help ease the suffering by being strong within ourselves and, as you say, change ourselves to meet the needs of those we come in contact with.
    Thank you for gathering us together as a reminder of our suffering brothers and sisters.

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