The Five Elements
Love. Bridges. Roots. Crashing waves. Infinite horizons.
If I had to shortlist the elements in my life that bring joy to my soul, I pick these. And the reason they beckon to me is because of the journey required to find them, understand the power within them, build them and nourish them.
I have often tried to find the words behind the word and, cliched as it may sound, it really is just a feeling. Sometimes an overwhelming feeling. Each of us experience it differently but need it desperately to feel tethered to this universe that we navigate.
Without love, we cannot feel compassion;
Without compassion, we cannot practice kindness;
Without kindness, we cannot thrive as a species.
I don't define love as only the kind that we experience with our partner. It is the love I feel when I see someone is happy; it is what I feel when I see someone in pain; it is the love that bleeds when I cannot erase someone's tears.
Even when I get knocked down, hurt and disappointed, I wake up to a new day seeking love because, for me, there is nothing more fundamental that feeds hope for a brighter world.
Even though my body and soul carry deep scars from the art of living, I have so much faith in the human condition that even when the constant strife in the world erodes the spirit, I believe that I can play a part in building bridges across differences, allowing us to speak in the language of love.
Through interpretations of our human psyche and motivations, be it in fiction or in life, I seek to find the basic building blocks that we all care about - a desire to live a life of meaning while having enough means to care for our loved ones. Is there really more to life than this?
As such, the physical structure of bridges, especially when it is an engineering marvel such as the Golden Gate Bridge, speaks to me. It is the manifestation of our basic need to connect disparate points, and a symbol of human persistence in finding a path through the impossible.
Ever since I have had an interest in photography, I have had a fascination with roots. The natural patterns of its unwieldy growth as it finds a way to tether itself to Earth has a deeper meaning for me. It is symbolic of our need to identify with something, and put our stake in the ground. It bears the scars of growth, its gnarly exterior a rite of passage marking its age. Sometimes it will assimilate foreign bodies around it until they work as one, in harmony. It remains a steadfast reminder of times gone by and the reality that even if deracinated, it will preserve its intricate legacy.
"In moments of sorrow, when the soul is hurting
I look out the window and there I find
The old and sturdy tree, proudly upright
Morning dew dripping off its falling leaves."
Until I moved to the Northern Coast of California, I didn't appreciate the primal power of the ocean and how it washes over anything I might be feeling at the time. The power of the waves, the rhythmic motion is mesmerizing. It towers over my existence, a fury embedded in its being that makes any worldly worry seem insignificant. Its potency in its destruction when fully unleashed seems a reminder to us that when it exists, we simply lack the right for any human hubris. Its constancy is a reminder of the One in a way that is far more meaningful for me than uncontrolled and unpredictable natural disasters that can ravage our lands.
"Back and forth, you keep your rhythm,
In soft and soothing tones.
You gently caress those you touch, as you pull away once more.
Cradled in the arms of Gaia
Your swagger is uneven
Your songs are sometimes cries of fury,
And sometimes an escaped breath,
Like a whistle.
Most days you are the serenity in the wake of a storm
But, on some, you are the storm."
I can sit by the coast and look out at the distance for hours. Even if I am held back by the demands of this world, a vastness of opportunities and imagination lies just beyond the threshold. I know the horizon is not really infinite but from my vantage point so it seems, and I realize that even when I know my limitations, through an optical illusion, I can look beyond the known possibilities. There is no end to this horizon, which I can extrapolate to the wider space and the physics of the cosmos beyond what we know on Earth. But this is what is real, now. It makes me find peace in my truth today but leaves me hopeful that through sheer will and a bit of illusion, the world can be my oyster.
"Your grandiose truth
Is the humbling one
That gives wings
To my broken ones."
- mh. (c) 2020