As a kid, I used to love watching Avatar the Last Airbender, a cartoon series about a young avatar who had to restore balance in the world. Although it was just a TV show, one of the lessons it taught me is how there is something we can learn from each of the four basic elements found in Nature: Earth, Fire, Water, and Air.
Earth – Be Grounded. Remember your roots.
As an element, Earth is literally “down to Earth.” It reminds us to stay grounded and humble. By understanding and appreciating the roots beneath the ground, it calls for us to be grateful for those who might be “below” us.
Most importantly, it teaches us how expansion needs to happen both inwards and outwards; in order for a plant to grow above the soil, it needs to continue to branch out its roots beneath the soil.
Fire – Be Dynamic. Accept change and transition.
Fire is a reminder of the constant changing we experience in life. In a moment, a single flame can blaze down entire forests and towns; it is a force of destruction, useful for when weeds need to be removed, and also an opportunity for renewal, for life to start afresh from the fertile ashes.
The element is a reminder for us to develop our “fire within.” After all, no matter how much wealth we may amass, it takes but a flame for it to burn away and disappear. Our character, our ideas, and our relationships – these are the intangible and “unburnable” things which bring value to our lives.
Water – Be Still. Remain calm and clear.
Like a deep and clear pond, we must learn how to be honest and transparent. An unpolluted pond is transparent within and at the same time able to show the reflection of those looking in, without much distortion.
The pond is open and clear enough for you to see through the water, and yet deep enough that any rock thrown at the water simply sinks below without causing too much disturbance; though there may be ripples on the surface, the pond is able to absorb the rock into itself.
Air – Be Flexible. Adjust and move on.
Air is a flexible element, one that flows over obstacles and adjusts itself automatically. It demonstrates how to adapt when circumstances change and how to remain nimble.
In addition, air is so vital to our lives and at the same time seemingly invisible. It teaches us to serve with humility, to give life to others but without expectation of acknowledgment and recognition.
Ultimately, by looking with a keen eye at the basic elements of nature around us, there is much we can learn about how we can mold our lives. Each of these elements has both its positives and negatives; any one element followed in its extreme would be detrimental to our wellbeing. A balanced life, however, takes use of these four elements, with attention given to its proper usage and moderation.
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