In Awe of Our Personal Fireworks

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 “We all like to be recognized not for one piece of fireworks, but for the ledger of our daily work.

-Neil Armstrong

Life began with the Big Bang, so it’s little surprise that much of life’s most impactful moments happen with “little bangs.” These little bangs can be moments of great beauty—like personal fireworks—moments of inspiration, flurries of activity, an explosion of passion, a rocket of held laughter. They can be the slow burn and satisfying grand finale of determined progress or perseverance through hard times. These little bangs can be loud blasts of pent-up anger, a roar of emotional turmoil, the private explosion of a binge, the flare of a relationship on the rocks.

“A firework is an icon of synergism,” according to the best darn NOVA (2002) article ever, “in which the end result is greater than the individual effects.” The BOOM, the color, the awesome is so much greater than the simple ingredients. “Yet where most of us see the whole—the brilliant light and vivid color of a successful burst—a pyrotechnician sees the parts…” Today we get to be the pyrotechnicians of our personal fireworks, our “little bangs.” Here, on the Forth of July we examine the anatomy of our fireworks, just like pyrotechnicians are doing all across the nation today. We check every part to ensure that all are “properly functioning” as NOVA (2002) cautioned, so that all our personal fireworks displays are moments of beauty not dangerous misfires.

It Begins With Our Black Powder

 

“The recipe for black powder, or gunpowder, the basic material in all fireworks, has remained the same since it was discovered in China about 1,000 years ago.”

The recipe for our explosion is just as ancient: Inner Talent + Inner Fire + Outside Pressure = BOOM! Modern society knows the uses of black powder well. This “basic material in all fireworks” can unleash beauty or bombs. An explosion is simply an expression of the inherent power of black powder or of our own inherent power. The firework, over the bomb, is a representation of 1,000 years of recipe work, understanding of that power and harnessing it with artful control.

Do we know our recipe? Do understand our power? Do we harness that recipe for artful beauty or unleash it in harm?

Here is how the masters craft their artwork of fire. How does our artwork of life compare?

Our Break

 

“In a multi-break firework, stars are contained in separate cardboard compartments within the shell. In order to [look the coolest] the break must burst open with tremendous force.” (NOVA, 2002)

Every one of our personal fireworks happens during a “break.” Breaking points are unavoidable, so the pyrotechnician doesn’t avoid it, he uses it to his advantage, planning for the break, to best harness its energy. Do we?

Or do we deny that we break, avoid the warning signs and dread the unavoidable explosion?

Our Time-delay Fuse

 

“By the time the shell nears its apogee, the fuse has burned low enough to ignite the black powder in the first break (or compartment). Colored stars ignite in every direction. But the show isn’t over yet…timing is critical….great care is used in designing the fuses and calculating their lengths.”

How long is our fuse? Do we have enough resiliency to recover from the first break in time to make something beautiful of it? Do we have enough coping skills or a self-management regimen strong enough to time our break?

Or do we just blow like a bomb, and are often the person most surprised at the explosion?

Our Payload of Stars

 

“Stars are the precious cargo carried by ‘aerial’ fireworks…An unlit star isn’t much to look at—just a dull black lump about the size of a jawbreaker. But appearances can be deceiving. When ignited, stars create the breathtaking flashes of color and light that elicit ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhhs’ from even the most jaded spectators…Stars can be extremely dangerous if not handled and stored with care. A sharp blow can detonate one.”

The stars of our lives are equally “not much to look at.” But, give them the right break, at the right time, with enough fire and BOOM—beauty. Our stars are equally dangerous. Each beautiful thing in us has a negative side; balancing it is part of the beauty, but first we must be aware so that we can ensure that our star potential is “handled and stored with care.”

Do we know what our star potential is? Our beautiful cargo that when it’s lit at the right time will unleash in a burst of “oohs” and “ahhs?” Or do we degrade our talents, evade the responsibility of our gifts or simply not know them?

Our Launch Tube

 

“Most fireworks are launched from rows of steel tubes secured in troughs of sand…If a firework doesn’t fit snugly into its launch tube, the pressure created by the lift charge will escape, and the firework can misfire.”

Check out the firework’s…support system! Yes, yes; you saw this one coming. Be they spouses, friends, family, therapists, doctors—who ever—the support system ensures that all the pressure needed to bring beauty is used for that beauty not a “misfire.”

Do we know our support system? Is it snug enough? Or do we not have one, avoid it or not have a genuine relationship?

Our Main Fuse

 

“The main fuse simultaneously lights two secondary fuses—a fast-acting side fuse that ignites the lift charge, and a time-delay fuse buried inside the shell that leads to the heart of the firework.”

Did we know that? That whatever causes our explosion, our dreaded “trigger,” will cause our temper to rise, but it also sets a second, time delayed fuse toward “the heart” of us?

This moment is the chance to harness the trigger and use the time delay to ignite our payload of stars in beauty, not harm. The time to choose is there, we should never confuse the lift charge with the fuse to our heart, but we so often get lost in the explosion.

Our Lift Charge

 

“When…the black powder is confined, say in a pouch at the bottom of a firework cylinder, the trapped heat and gas will push vigorously at the inside of the launch tube until an explosion results. This explosion will free the heat and gas and hurtle the firework shell as high as 1,000 feet into the air.”

The beauty of a firework can only be seen when we understand how our black powder works well enough to control its power. If we can’t, it explodes and we get blown to bits. All pyrotechicians develop a respect for their powder and the explosion it produces, and know how to control it without fear.

Do we understand our power? Can we control it without fear? Or do we still see our powder as bigger than us, stronger than us and uncontrollable?

If you do still feel like your black powder is too strong, or you don’t know it well enough to control it, then look over this list, check off where you need to grow, (maybe check out our helplinks page) then put it aside and check out parting grand finale picture below. Look at all the different beautiful types of explosions, each an “icon of synergism” representing understanding, balance and harnessed power. Find your favorite; we all have one.

Go outside tonight everyone. Find some fireworks. Be amazed, but remember the finale picture below and as all the beauty blazes through the sky above you, wonder, “Which one am I?”

 

Light the sky for the whole world to see;
in all your glory, in all your pride.

-Strung Out, “Firecracker”

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NOVA/PBS.org (2002) Name that shell: The Anatomy of a Firework. Retrieved From: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/fireworks/

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