A bed of 2000 degree hot coals. And here is a picture of my feet a few minutes post-potentially-stupid-thing-you-regret:
As you can see, my feet did not get burnt off into bloody cauterized stumps. There they are, in all their glory, the same as they were before the fire-walk, if a little bit red from being slightly roasted. Any injuries? Well, the bottoms of my feet, the part touching the 2000 degree bed of hot coals that I walked over, felt sunburned after walking over the bed of 2000 degree hot coals. Which I walked over this past Thursday night, in case you were wondering.
But Friday morning, most of the sunburned feeling was gone except for a small spot on my left footsie. That was a nice surprise.
The other nice surprise I woke up to Friday morning was being able to say I did that fire walk. And it's not even entirely about walking across the bed of hot coals. That's really only the last few seconds of a process that extended over the course of many hours.
What was that process? It was a multi-hour process of preparation that Tony Robbins, yes the guy from the '80's infomercials, led 4,500 of my closest friends through to show us that it is our free will, employed in a productive direction consistently over time, that allows us to break through our fears and achieve what we were meant to achieve.
Doesn't this sound so simple? Isn't this just so obvious? "What have you done, oh great and powerful Weissology," some of you might think. "You spend a bunch of dough to get pumped up in a crowd full of kool-aid guzzlers, only to learn what you have known all your life?! That you have free will and you need to exercise it to move ahead in life?!?!"
I'll answer via a badly chosen metaphor, couched in a bit of snooty meaningless elitism:
All of you, of course, will remember when I stopped watching the Oscars. It was in 1999, when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) failed to nominate Jeff Bridges for the award of best actor for his revolutionary performance as Jeffrey Lebowski in the Cohen brothers' classic film The Big Lebowski. After that, for me, both the art and science were settled. There could be no legitimacy in an organization that could not see what was right before its very eyes: that Jeff Bridges had changed the art of film acting forever with that performance.
I tell you this by way of introduction to the fact that, had it not been for Amanda, Chris, and Christophe, I would still be watching the Oscars today, a fish in a tiny bowl, overjoyed to be swimming to and fro in the soaked ignorance of my own limitations.
Amanda, Chris, and Christophe, friends in Los Angeles where I lived at that time, invited me over to watch The Big Lebowski, which had been released on video. I saw it in the theaters, I told them, and I did not particularly like it. They insisted, explaining the Rule of Cohen Brothers Films to me, a rule the existence of which I had theretofore been soakingly ignorant.
See, it goes like this. The Cohen Brothers are geniuses. But if you watch one of their films only once, you risk disliking or only mildly liking it. It's on the second viewing that the true essence of the film reveals itself.
Having no alternative social plans, I accepted, joined them for the screening, and from that moment on understood why it's funny when my sister-in-law says, "I'm calmer than you," and why the AMPAS is a totally bogus organization comprised of echo-chamber back slappers who wouldn't know a break-through acting performance if it cut off one of their toes.
Fast-forward to 2013. We can talk all day long about how important our free will is, how critical our life decisions are, how essential it is to harness the power of our inner motivation. But sometimes it takes a real experience to shock us into the realization that the way we have been experiencing life was fish-bowl sized.
That's what the firewalk was for me. In the moments after walking across that bed of hot coals, I was excited and proud of myself. In the days following, including today, I am more pensive. The real question is, "What must I achieve in life?"
And how must I deploy my free will day by day in order to prepare for the last few seconds of the process, the briefest yet flashiest part, the very end?