Putting Out Fires – Barrier Series # 8

Fire Escapes

Fire Escapes © 2012 Bo Mackison

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.” ~ Confucius

(This post is the eighth in a series of my story, an intimate exploration of art and healing.)

So the greatest glory is not in never failing, it is in rising again — a hard lesson to learn, when time after time, I make the same mistakes. (It took me a long time to learn that the only real mistake in making a mistake is denying that you made it.)

A little voice in my head often tempted me:

“Oh, go ahead. You are doing great. You don’t need to go to bed this early, you’ll miss out on the fun. You don’t need to watch what you eat – it’s the holiday season, enjoy all those treats. You don’t need that tiny pill any more – nah, don’t check with your doc. And just maybe you don’t need to see that therapist any longer. Nah, you’re doing fine.”

Now I’m in a better state of mind, I nix those crazy ideas immediately. Those ideas are crazy ideas. They send out a red alert for me. Only a few years ago, I often fell into the trap. I’d believe them. I’d eat unhealthy foods or I’d stop eating altogether. I wouldn’t listen to the signals my body was sending, all those SOS alerts. Eventually I would crash and wonder why.

“Every day, think as you wake up today I am fortunate to be alive.
I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.” ~ Dalai Lama

One of the ways I’ve learned to not waste even one precious day is to follow a regimen of extreme self-care. Taking care of my body, my mind and my spirit is my first priority. Like the attendant who reminds all flight passengers to first put on their oxygen mask, I take care of myself so I am in a position to do my work, create art, help others.

Some days are easier than others. But each day is a gift, and every morning is an opportunity to consider how fortunate it is to be alive.

About Bo Mackison

I’m a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place – a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I’d love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It’s my gift to you.


  1. Been following all of your posts. The imagery on this one is particularly striking, poignant. I watched you go up and down, and I was on pretty much of a parallel track. When you would go up, my feeling was relief, relaxation, recovery – “We’re getting there, the worst is behind us.” When things would go down, down they went and I came tumbling along. Eventually, I learned to detach (hopefully not too much) but enough for me to float on the surface like a raft on the ocean – up and down but not as much as you. I guess this was my way of taking care of myself enough so there was something left for our collective “US.” Curious feelings, curious that I can still step back into them – I think you chose the photograph with much insight.

    Keep up the most excellent sharing. You are doing nicely, quite nicely.

    Love Always


  2. Amazing image. The dark fire escapes against the light building, the repetition of patterns and shapes, the angles–excellent.
    As to taking care of oneself, extreme care even, it was a slow lesson for me to learn. Once I began getting enough sleep, my headaches went away. Once I quit trying to go off my meds, my emotional life remained within normal bounds. Once I began exercising on a regular basis, my body felt so much better.
    This is an important post you have written. I intend to share it with a couple of people.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Extreme self care is a demanding task. But so essential. Thank you for sharing, Anita. I so appreciate your comment!

  3. What a terrific image to illustrate the ‘rising’. It speaks to the strength you are so beautifully illustrating that you have within.

  4. Great image to go with your thoughts here, Bo. I like the idea of extreme self-care. It’s something I’m learning to do.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Took me a long time to learn that I couldn’t do much of anything unless I first took care of myself. Seems like such a common sense thing — not for me though.

  5. I love this photo. I really do. It says to me – keep climbing those stairs, keep going up. It may be tough, you might get tired, you may just want to sit and stay, or you may fall a few “flights”. But the view from the top will be just as wonderful as recognizing the journey was really something to see and marvel at as well.

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