Inside the Flame: The Joy of Treasuring What You Already Have
Inside the Flame: The Joy of Treasuring What You Already Have

Inside the Flame: The Joy of Treasuring What You Already Have

by Christina Waters


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Inside the Flame invites readers to unplug their computers, cell phones, and televisions and plunge back into overlooked nooks and crannies of everyday experience. We've lost touch with the richness of the tangible and with it our reverence for the physical world. Our ability to focus on the here and now is in crisis. By illuminating ways to take a closer look at the world around, Inside the Flame will help readers heighten their surroundings, tune the volume more precisely, and live lives that are fuller, richer, more mindful, and more compassionately interwoven with others. Inside the Flame illustrates how attentive experience brings the world close, and how the world responds by infusing us with bold colors, memorable textures, and a more widely open heart.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781941529324
Publisher: Parallax Press
Publication date: 11/22/2016
Pages: 344
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Christina Waters is a fifth generation Californian who grew up in an Air Force family, living in France, Germany, and Virginia before returning to Santa Cruz to where she earned her Ph.D. in Philosophy. For the past two and a half decades Waters has worked as a journalist specializing in the arts, film, food, and wine for a variety of San Francisco Bay area and national publications. She has been nominated three times for James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards, and has lectured in Art, Environmental Ethics, and Film at UCSC for the past 20 years. A lifelong musician, Waters performs with the Cabrillo College Symphonic Choir and the UCSC Concert Choir.

Read an Excerpt

Searching for Home

For as long as I can remember, I have returned to the question: How can I feel at home in the world? As an Air Force brat, I had sixteen addresses before I left high school and twenty-one more after that.

Home was an elusive destination. Like the horizon, it was always receding, beyond reach no matter how fast I chased it. Because my family kept moving, home remained not only an elusive somewhere but also a perpetual someday. I longed to have a permanent place to which I belonged, and which would keep safe all my memories of family, friendship, and youthful discovery. For me it became romanticized into an image of a cozy house whose attic was filled with toys, scrapbooks, antique photographs, and outgrown clothes—the tangible perfume of holidays, birthdays, and rites of passage. Feeling at home became the goal of my life; it inspired everything I did. 

With all that moving from place to place, I learned to act quickly to connect with people, to grow familiar with my surroundings, and to make friends. I wanted to feel, touch, sing, dance, love, explore, collect, drink, paint, walk, and see everything. Somewhere in all that active engagement I could surely find, or create, the place I sought. At some point I made the unconscious decision that survival meant embracing instability. Home would be wherever I happened to be. 

I envied people whose houses had attics stuffed with childhood memorabilia. I gravitated toward friends with large, extended families, saying yes to dinner invitations whenever a grandmother might be at the table. Grandparents symbolized a warm, intimate connection with the past, especially a specific past of a specific family. I had known my own grandparents so briefly in the flurry of moving back and forth across countries and continents and had missed connecting through them to their own homes and origins. I missed being in touch with their rootedness in the era that had led to my own. I longed to ask an elder about her favorite memories, but by the time I reached out, the elders had slipped away. I acquired the sorts of rich, varied, and messy memories that only a wanderer can accumulate. Each encounter took the form of a question: Will this place, person, or act take root and sprout, grow tall and stay with me for the long run? 

Perhaps because I had no roots to hold me tight to one path or one place, I was free to explore. In the process I have filled each event in my life with as much color, movement, and awareness as it could hold. 

The quest for home has provided me with incredible joys, silly fun, and adventure as well as many awkward moments and occasional terrors. Along the way my attitude of curiosity helped to open doors, metaphorical as well as literal, which would otherwise have remained shut.

This book contains some tales of a life lived with all senses wide open. What follows is a close reading of the worlds contained in ordinary events, the eternities enmeshed in the body’s enjoyment of the senses. Plunging into life with a sense of adventure has reinforced my capacity for excitement and heightened my sensitivity to everything I touch. 

This is the story of my journey home.

Table of Contents


Part One: How We Touch the World

Grasp: The Right Fit

Moving: Higher, Faster, Farther

Extreme Play


Petting Cats

Oral Fixations

Oral Mysteries

Extreme Flavors

Flavor Collisions


Color Wheel: the Magenta Jacket v
Acts of Renewal: Meditations of the Hand

Folding Clothes

Ironing Meditation

Transformative Dusting

Putting on Makeup

Shape Shifting: Baking Bread

Personal Shape Shifting

Space Programs

Expanding the body: Favorite Clothing

Decorating Space

Space Shifting

Dining by Candlelight

Rites of Memory

Seasonal Flavors

Making Mud Pies

Lost or Found

Hero Mom

Part 2: How the World Touches Us

The Seasons

Climbing Amboy Crater

The Gravity of Dawn

Sonic Transport


Eye Candy

Swimming in the Rain

Management Issues

Sensory Joy



Crushing Bay Leaves

The bicyclist and the French Lavender

Russian Leather: my mother's perfume


Discomfort Zones

Freestyle Craftiness

Visual Intimacy: Mirrors

Touched Back

Toxic Snow

Innocent Leg and Jumping Cholla

Attack of the yellow jackets




Island in the Sky

Fridays on Westcliff

Loss: Ceremonies of Death

Loss Transformed

Magnify This

Part 3: Inside the Flame

A Well-Made Home

Ordinary Objects

Music Recaptured

Something from Nothing


Defining Moments

Too-Near and No-Where

The Space of Mid-Air

Too-close Encounters

The Overwhelmingly Generic

The New and Unknown

Going to Extremes

Defining Moments: Diving through the Waves

Watching Movies, Extending Space

Defining Moments: Flying with my Father

Painting the Rock

Uncurated Keepsakes

Connective Tissues

Defining Moments: Grand Canyon Sunset

Defining Moments: The Rain Forest

Defining Moments: Tree Falling on Car

Sensory Webs

Defining Moments: Brahms in London

All Roads Lead to Home

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