Science has proven when an animal is trapped by fire it will always try to flee the flames, even if that means leaping off a ledge or jumping into unknown waters and into death.  We saw evidence of that self-salvation in the brutality of the World Trade Center as people willingly leapt from windows one hundred storeys above the ground — some even joined hands in the free-fall — just to escape the fireball burning their bodies.

There are other, less dramatic, examples of fleeing in order to save the self.

Some young people race out of the family house and into a college dorm or apartment in order to escape the home fires burning the flesh of their sensibilities.

The fatality in that premature leaping from the home is the child often falls hard and gets lost.  Some never recover their disorientation. 

In the fleeing, there is little planning and zero prescience, and so the child limps around, slightly burned and always smelling of smoke, but also relishing the breath of freedom and belonging.

An effective escape from the heat must be quietly counseled and wisely promoted — and “going off the school” is the perfect cover for the retreat from the flames – higher education is built upon this necessary leaping.

The healthy student will not hesitate to ask for help in standing up and will always look below them for others who escaped, but fell, and then lift them from the smoke and the ashy lies and up into the light of freedom and self-realization.


  1. Beautifully said David…
    As the saying goes – “…the harder you fall, the higher you bounce!”
    Stumbling and limping is absolutely necessary – it’s scary, confusing, lonely,lost…what not – but worth it.
    I agree “education” matters.

  2. Katha —
    The release from the home is a necessary process that is fostered by higher education, and some rightly argue it is harder for the young, blue collar, worker — without any learning beyond high school — to successfully make that break from the burning home fires.

  3. Katha —
    Lifelong learning is important for us all — we must keep pushing away from the fire and into the cold abyss if we hope to continue our understanding of the world and keep our universal cogency sharp and on point.

  4. Oh, they sure do — there’s an old saying if you want to work in your hometown in any sort of important capacity, you have to leave and then come back. It’s as if you have to prove your worth in the world away from your home in order to be respected back at home and not be seen as an unworthy child.
    Sure lots of people “go home again” but I don’t know of many success stories that move beyond the anarchic and the incendiary because once you’re out, going back takes you the wrong way in the pendulumic swing of your life.

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