Serendipitous Inspiration #10 — The Phoenix

We all have heard it.  Some cheesy line about going through hard times and, “rising from the ashes like a glorious phoenix,” or some such nonsense.  Something about it just never seemed right to me for one reason or another.  I couldn’t describe it.

Whenever I heard that I just kept thinking, “but it’s the same phoenix, how different could it be?”

Do you see my point?  True, the phoenix gets to start over, but how different could things go if it’s just the same phoenix trying again and again.

It has the same strengths, weaknesses and personality.  How much could change?

I always liked to call foul when I heard anything related to that phrase until I heard this song on the radio today.

Yup, Fall Out Boy.  That’s right, I’m exactly as surprised as you are.  I’ve never really been a fan of Fall Out Boy, but not only did this song appeal to me immediately, but it’s also got me rethinking the whole phoenix issue.

If you haven’t heard the song before, please give it a listen before you read the rest of the post.  Everything will make more sense.

Now that we’re all on the same page, I want to point out what about it struck me today as I was driving.  The whole song kind of struck a chord, but this one line sums it up perfectly.

I’m going to change you like a re-mix, then I’ll raise you like a phoenix.

Now, oddly enough, I kind of did my own mental gymnastics for that line to make sense to me.  You see when they said raise, I immediately thought, “raze”, as in completely destroy.

Ironic really, I didn’t realize that they meant the other, “raise”, until I looked up the lyrics to make sure I quoted them properly.

Regardless of how correct or incorrect it may have been, it made me realize something.

The fire doesn’t only destroy the phoenix’s body so that it can be young again, but it purifies it.  It sheds the weakness it’s accumulated in that life span and leaves only the good parts, the strength, the wisdom, the knowledge and skills.

I never really thought about that, but despite the phoenix just being a mythical bird, I realized how much that translates into real life, and through that our writing.

Another quote comes to mind by Nietzsche:

What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.

Wouldn’t you say there’s something purifying about that?

Now, it depends on how you define the ideas of strength and weakness, but honestly I believe that they cannot exist together.

For example, one cannot be strong in math, and yet weak in math at the same time.

When it comes to individual concepts it’s usually a Y/N type scenario.  Granted, there are different ways to split hairs about it, and of course everything is very complicated in the world and inside the human mind so you can be strong in one facet of something, and yet weak in another facet.

Ignoring the details of the whole thing, I never thought of the pain that life causes to be a purifying experience.  That it’s slowly separating the wheat from the chaff inside of me.  That all the effort and blood sweat and tears we put into something is really making us better at the same time.

It’s a very interesting theme that I am determined to work into a story somehow.  I’m not sure how, or in what way, but it’s definitely going to make an appearance in my work at one point or another.

Before I go I have a couple extra questions besides my usual quip below.

When have you felt yourself being purified by the hard times in your life?

Have you ever used this type of plot device in your stories before, and if so, how?

So what do you think?  Agree?  Disagree?  Think I’m nuts?  Whatever you’re thinking leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


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