The Element of Fire

April 12, 2012
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Of the four elements, fire is the most destructive. Earth crushes, air slices, and water pushes, but fire consumes. It devours everything in its path, leaving behind nothing but a trail of ashes. It does not discriminate; anything and everything will become its fuel. Yet despite that, fire has a kind of savage beauty, captivating in its wild motions and its liveliness.

Fire is powerful. More subtle than earth but more vicious than water, it is destruction in a fluid form. It is a series of contradictions: life and death, love and hate, creation and destruction. But most of all, it is power. A single spark can start a vicious blaze, wreaking havoc and burning, burning, until nothing is left. Nothing but a heap of snow-white ashes, its purity almost a mockery of the destruction that hads occurred.

In a metaphorical sense, it is both love and hate, for both emotions blaze with a white-hot passion. The power of these two feelings can overwhelm, can create and destroy, and in that, it is fire. It is pain. It blisters and singes, hurting all in its path that is not consumed in its fury. It is creation, burning away the old to clear space for the new, leaving room for it to grow and flourish. It is destruction, tearing down what has been built, gobbling it up in mere moments; years of work gone in minutes. It is death, showing no mercy to its victims as it both suffocates them and devours them. And yet, beyond that, it is life.

It dances with the joy of life. Like living beings, it “eats” and requires shelter to survive, lest a strong wind blow it out and extinguish its light. Without air, it will also die, just like living beings. It changes like we do, growing as it gets stronger, fading and dying as time passes. And most of all, it has that “spark”, that thing that can be said to be the true essence of life. It’s almost laughable how the element that we fear the most is also the one that we could argue is the most similar to us.

Fire is beautiful. It flickers in various shades, not just limited to jewel-like reds and vivid oranges, but also briefly touching on pale blues, bright greens, and rich violets. It is ever changing, never the same from one moment to the next, its myriad of arms growing and shrinking, swaying in the breeze, reaching for the sky. I have spent many moments mesmerized by the motion of its flames, dancing gracefully and painting dark shadows on the ground. In its wildness and savage behavior, there is a beauty, a primitive loveliness that is rarely seen in the other elements.

Fire is the element of destruction, but it is also the element of contradictions, the element of savage beauty. It waltzes with the wind as it consumes the earth, bravely standing against the force of its enemy, water. It rages with the force of all it has consumed, and yet, when it is tamed, it is one of our most useful tools. There are no words that can truly describe what it is, except for one: fire.

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