Editor’s note regarding COVID-19

By Sonya Acharya

I know we’re all cooped up inside, being sad and stuff. But I have news for yinz! It’s something to make you less sad! It works at any time, but I thought I’d share it so people can be less sad during these trying times.

My *hot* tip is this: Light Fires To Feel Joy. Yes, I know that’s a Pitch Perfect reference. No, I’m not going to take it back. I did it on purpose, and I also meant it.

You wake up. You feel sad, probably. Think of flames, warming you up and filling you with warmth. You have to set something on fire. That will make you feel better. You’re going to need a steady source of fire like a candle or a blowtorch or the stove if you’re not a coward. (I’m not a coward.) What? A lighter? You’ll have to speak to my legal counsel about that one.

Step 1 – Find steady flame.

Now, you’re going to need a goal. Not a life goal, that’s pointless. (In this situation at least. Please don’t actually give up on your life goals.) You’re going to need a pyrological goal. Find something that you wish to set on fire. No, not bridges, I do not recommend burning bridges to feel joy. Unless they’re really mean, then maybe. You could burn an entire box of pencils, because you won’t be needing them anymore. What’ll you do, take notes while watching lectures in bed? Ok, maybe you’ll do that a little bit, so keep one pencil aside and burn the rest of the entire box. Or you can do what I did and just try to burn a 3-wick Cedar Firewood candle that has a lid and everything. Start small but be fancy.

Step 2 – Find something to burn.

Next you’re going to execute your goal. The specific steps and rules to follow for this will really depend on what your goal is, so I’ll just tell you how I executed mine. I needed a way to transfer fire from source (stove) to goal (candle). I used a combination of junk mail and borrowed spaghetti. The junk mail was from a credit card company that’s not mine but that wants to be mine, and the borrowed spaghetti was three of my roommate’s noodles, from the box on the counter. I couldn’t use my own because I don’t have spaghetti and I knew one day I’d look at my empty bowl and wish I had just three more noodles. But my roommate’s spaghetti was a different story, and I knew she’d understand when she saw how happy I was.

Step 3 (optional) – Find kindling.

I used strips of junk mail to try and light the three wicks. As I held bits of burning paper, with flames, I realized I’d never felt more alive. I also realized that the burning paper smelled a lot like plastic and fireworks and I decided it probably wasn’t safe. That’s when I switched to borrowed spaghetti. This wasn’t as fun because the flames spent a long time being further away from my hand so I felt less alive. But I managed to light the wicks of the candle, which made me feel more alive, so I guess my overall feeling of aliveness by the end of it was elevated. Lighting fires DID make me feel joy!!

Step 4 – Execute goal.

I know that there is still one burning question. What if you light your house on fire? Well, I’m not worried. We all have working smoke detectors, right? I know I do, because the third time I met my landlord, he was flipping his shit while putting new batteries into my smoke detector because apparently he had someone die in a housefire. If you don’t have a working smoke detector and you’re still worried, move to a location on the same street as a fire department. That way, when you light your house on fire, they can see the flames shooting out of the roof before you even have to call them, and they can come to put out the fire and find you roasting marshmallows on your size XL campfire, singing “On Top of Spaghetti”. I know that’s oddly specific, but trust me, everyone’s been there.

TL;DR – In the short term as well as in the long term, lighting things on fire will make you feel better and also make you feel warm inside and out. I know things may seem pretty bleak right now, but I believe that we can get through this dark, sad, difficult time together.

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