When I was a kid, I was in awe of the slide behind Poale Zedeck Synagogue. And not those plastic twisty ones or low slopey things we have nowadays, attached to foam and rubber playground sets in soothing earth-tone colors. This thing was a wrought-iron-and-chrome standalone sculpture, a right isosceles triangle of hot, high pain in the middle of the dirt playground behind the yeshivah. But every day I got up to the top and slid down all recess, until my legs burned and my ankles suffered mild-to-moderate stress fractures. And if you were a first grader, new to the yard, I’d have told you it was amazing, and scooted by you as you stared up the ladder all recess.

But then, I was that first grader too. I stood there half the year staring at it, enthralled by its allure but frozen in terror. It was hot, it was painful, it was too fast. Why were all the second graders claiming it was amazing? Curiosity and dread and desire built like a flame in me, until it melted my inaction and I discovered on my own.

The kids who never discovered were over by the seesaw.

Objects of fear, desire, want, loathing, passion: they all start a kind of fire that burns in your own belly. That fire will consume something of you, and you will feel it. Some things will just burn a little and go away, other things will consume more and more. Eventually, enough objects will consume you, and you’ll be nothing. This is life. The Torah recognizes that. You will have a fire in you, it says, a desire for excitement, for love, for this or that object, and—at some point in your life, in some way—for G‑d. But G‑d, your G‑d, is a consuming fire too. And He desires to join you, as flame joins flame.

There is a certain kind of subsumption there. Not to nothingness, but certainly a loss of something to the greater whole. But then there is something of the promise of eternity, of infinity, that joining to G‑d has to offer.

And if you want to avoid it, have fun on the seesaw.