He wasn’t all that surprised when everything caught on fire. It exploded in front of his eyes, twirls of orange and yellow and red filling up every corner of his vision before the awareness of the heat and the inevitable subsequent blackness decided to take his consciousness too.
Nothing really had an ending – there was the beginning, the start, the initial point where you started drawing the circle. Then there was the middle, the not initial but not final steps of the journey. But how could the end be called the end if that’s just when you reached the beginning of yet another circle?

There was no doubt in his mind that he was deep in the middle of the ashes, now. The start of a new cycle brought with it the terrible and lovely adaptation period and the relearning of movements and paces and thoughts that should be so familiar. But new phases were still new. New meant forget the familiar. New meant hold your breath, dive in and swim until your muscles take you somewhere else.

His skin felt raw and tingly, a testament to the rebirth. There were no thick barriers between the inside of his body and the outside world, only the thin young skin of when you start again. No calluses and no tough spots. If he didn’t know better he would just say that he had finished something and was starting new, but again, there are no endings. One does not stop breathing after a painful breath and before the next, freed one. One keeps breathing. Keeps moving. Circle after circle.

Getting up and stretching his arms triggered memories of the recent times when all of his feathers were in place and the strong sight of him was magnificent. The feeling of being on top of the world – let’s name it happiness – is a positive counselor to one’s life, and he was no exception in believing that he had it figured out. His look rested upon the newborn skin, however, hurting in the spots where he used to have calluses before. That’s the thing – being strong against something does not prepare you for something else. He would have to create new thick skin. He would get hurt, again, inevitably, and develop the corresponding tough spots and punch-backs.

Then he got up, and it was through reflex memory that he kept one step after the other until he relearned how to walk. And then he started on the next journey, shaking off the ashes with help of the new winds and currents. New vs old vs new the entire way out. The warmth, then the explosion, then the ashes. Then the warmth again. It just keeps going. In life, let us be phoenixes.

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