Below the flimsy and crumbling pie-crust we live on, the Earth is burning. It needed to be that way for life to evolve. Fire is one of the four elements of matter as the Greek understood them, together with air, water, and donuts (we are unsure about this fourth one-it has been a long time since the ancient Greeks). It is arguably the only one that is inherently ambivalent. Fire destroys, as wildfires have so painfully shown, but it also keeps us warm in winter, and at night. 

Back when we were just one of many creepy crawly creatures, we started to build campfires to keep us warm and safe at night. Other predators learned the hard way to stay away, humans were gathered near these flames and many had spears. But the worst thing they had around these fires, with regard to future generations of Earth’s creatures, was time. Assuming they had full stomachs and were not yet sleepy, there was nothing left for these early yous and mes to do except chat with each other.

While out and about on the hunt, or scouting territories for places to camp and/or enemies, or asleep with their families, these people needed to concentrate completely on the task at hand-their survival depended upon it. Now that the hunting was done and everyone was full, the winter clothing had been stitched together, the musk-ox horn had been boiled, its core had been removed, and the resulting disgusting bloody mess had been cleaned up, enabling everyone in the tribe to “pass the horn” and imbibe, it was time to bond. That meant: story time!

Everyone sat around a campfire, rolled weeds, and told each other trashy caveman stories like “Don’t Touch Thoga’s Meatloaf-BAD!!” or “Children Of The Corn.”

Yuval Harari, in his wonderful book Sapiens, showed that the key to humankind’s success was gossip. Without the ability to get to know the others in their group/clan/tribe, humans would have been unable to band together and eventually settle, which means that without fire there could be no civilization.

It is upon this burning rock that our place in history, our civilization, and our destinies are founded.

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