The firewalker

Things didn’t turn out well last week for Tony Robbins, the guy made rich and famous by inspiring you to feel good about yourself, if only briefly.

He burned some clients, but not how you might think.

Seems part of his big-ticket seminar is having participants walk over a bed of red-hot coals. This is to demonstrate that we worry too much, that lots of stuff we “know” is dangerous turns out to be nothing of consequence.

Sometimes the universe is not what we deeply believe.

But last Thursday, 21 people did get hurt, letting them know that worry often is justified, sometimes to the point of pain. Whoops!

The fire pit at Robbins’ event was 10 feet long. I was particularly interested in this story because I have walked barefoot across a bed of red-hot coals myself.

During a low point in my life — most every minute between 1995 and 2000 — I did a number of New Age things, and firewalking was one of them.

It was an event on the outskirts of Houston, Texas. There were about 20 people in the group, and we all walked over the coals. Nobody got burned.

Instead of a rectangle 10 feet long, we faced a circle of glowing coals about six to eight feet in diameter. The circular configuration gives participants the option of choosing how far to walk — right through the middle or just cutting a corner.

I walked straight across the center, the full-faith stroll. What you feel is simply a shocking sensation, not specifically one of heat. Many of the participants walked across the middle numerous times. I just did it once.

I may be bold, but I’m not crazy.

I found it very helpful. Some impossible things are possible.

This is good to know.

* * * *

(Here’s the story about the Robbins event.)

23 thoughts on “The firewalker”

  1. I saw this story featured on the NBC national news feed. Hilarious, I thought, THIS MADE NEWS?!? Really, people walking on hot coals and getting burned.

    (Even though I work for a media outlet I have a HUGE disdain for most of the media outlets after years of seeing how they report “news” and the different things they do for ratings/viewers.)


    1. But Mike, most people at those events, be they large like Robbins’ or smaller like the one I participated in, do not get burned, so when they do, especially in large numbers and at events orchestrated by famous people, that is news, I think.

      I still do not understand how it is possible to walk across red-hot coals barefoot and not get burned. A friend of mine who was the public safety director in Jekyll Island, Georgia, told me of a boy who accidentally ran (ran!) across a pit of coals on the beach that had been completely covered by sand and left to die out. That boy had to be hospitalized. So, it’s a mystery.


  2. Geez, Pops, the things I learn about ya. Here I thought we shared most of the good stuff bout each other back in the day. You are an amazing man, Señor Zapata Caliente! 🙂


      1. There is something primitive in a psyche that says not to walk across fire. Not to jump out of plane. Not to run with the bulls. Not much of a risk taker, fortunately or unfortunately.


  3. Wow – You must have been in some place in your life. Sounds like you were trying everything. Well, maybe not everything!


    1. Connie: “Some place” in my life is an understatement. I was almost totally unhinged for years after my second divorce, which forced me to look at things far afield of just the divorce itself, which was only a catalyst. Took about five years for the smoke to clear, but it ended up being a totally positive experience. I imagine it’s akin to what Christians call being reborn, though I am not a Christian, of course.


  4. I lived over a year in a place that could be classified as a cult, commune or something like that. I was scared to leave. I think I would have walked on coals though once I knew that I needed to leave.


    1. Laurie: Well, well, isn’t this tidbit interesting. One is tempted to say it explains a lot, but I won’t say that.

      My only sister (my sole sibling) is in a cult, and has been for about 25 years. It’s a loosely organized group of people who do not live together in the traditional cult fashion, but it still is one. It claims to be some sort of “therapy” school of thought. They have a leader in New York whom they adore and take his every word as Gospel.

      I have often considered writing about my sister here, but I never have. Probably never will. She is 71 now, and an absolute fanatic.

      Big fan of Obama, by the way.


  5. A power within — if anyone is spiritual in any way, we know it to exist, why physically walk on hot coals to prove you can?

    Life deals us hot stuff as it is, at one time or another, we either get singed, burned, or we can come out of it with a fine degree. It’s the type of education even an ivy league could not have provided.

    Braving the “smoke to clear” takes patience, focus and strength — humans also need time and life’s university gives us that.


    1. Ray: That reminds me of something kinda funny. When I told my old mama what I had done, she never really was able to wrap her mind around it. She came up with all manner of what to her were logical explanations for my not getting injured. None of which actually applied, of course.


      1. We have a TV show up here called “Mythbusters,” where they attempt to test or recreate all manner of urban legends and viral internet videos.

        They recently tested the fire walking thing. Interesting in that two of them walked slowly and deliberately across the coals with absolutely no effect on their feet. The third guy panicked about half way across and sort of ran — resulting in serious blistering.

        Slow-motion camera showed that the first two stayed on top of the coals, while the third penetrated the surface when he ran, resulting in more exposure to greater temperatures.

        I’m not sure that explains the first two … but it made sense why the third was burned.

        I still wouldn’t do it. I probably would jump out of a plane, which I read you also did. I ride a motorcycle — that’s about all the risk I can stand.


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