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Tuesday, 5 April 2011

the matchbox

At the moment, I am lighting a candle every evening.  This means striking a match.  But the box of matches I dug out is old and worn. The striking surface has lost most of its friction.  I need to press the match very firmly as I strike, and often make several attempts.  Press too hard and the match itself breaks.

I mentioned to Andy that we needed a new box of matches.  He dug one out from somewhere and I picked it up yesterday, pulling out a match.  I struck it hard against the side of the box and the flame flared so suddenly it made me jump.  I had not realised how ineffectual the other one was; I was so used to having to make several attempts.

After lighting the candle, I stared into the flame, suddenly thinking.  I had been caught by a moment of recognition, of description.

I realised - this is a bit like how it feels to struggle with CFS/ME - at least, it is for me.  So often I am filled with ideas and passion and inspiration - 'matches' full of potential.  Then I go to light them up and end up desperately striking against an old, worn box, unable to find the energy needed to ignite the passion, to implement the idea.  It's a repeated frustration, and often I feel like I am left with a pile of ideas I cannot use - a pile of wasted, broken matches.

On thinking about this I am not intending to sound self-pitying or miserable.  Rather it feels like a moment of helpful reflection.  Some things are hard to describe; finding a picture for them is something of a release.  And of course this image could cover a multitude of limitations, struggles and illnesses.  

Sometimes, for all of us, life just feels like striking ineffectually against a matchbox that won't do what it's supposed to.

So - do I give up trying to light a candle?  No. Rather than spending all my time waiting for a fresh matchbox, I don't intend to neglect what I've got.  It may take a few more strikes, but the flame is worth it, in spite of - and because of - the effort needed to catch a spark.

Image from stock.xchng


Joan said...

The Bible says a lot about Light "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." I think you have the right attitude Lucy.

Lora said...


Lucy Mills said...

Thanks Joan and Lora x

Anonymous said...

I like metaphors. If you are the match - who is the old worn box? Could it be your CFS/ME? What about the new match box? Could it be us, your readers? It's the friction that creates the heat that lights the match. Everytime you strike the match you leave a bit of the match head on the box!

Lucy Mills said...

Thanks Alan - well put; yes I'm rather keen on metaphors myself!

"The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people."- Richard Foster