The Original Composition

Air. Fire. Earth. Water… It was once thought that these four elements  reflected the simplest essential parts and principles of which anything consisted or upon which the constitution and fundamental powers of anything were based. 

What if the original composition of us human beings could be described in terms of these same four elements?

Air is vital to us. When we breathe, our lungs process the air and leak it into our blood vessels for them to carry oxygen to our body organs, which need it to perform their vital functions correctly. In a more platonic or figurative sense, however, air would represent our souls, where our hopes and dreams reside. These are also vital to us, as they guide us along the path of life. Without them, we find ourselves trapped in a meaningless existence, a mere quest for survival with no further goals. 

Fire has been used to cook and to heat places. However beneficial this may sound, there is another face to fire: it has the power to burn and destroy. Such is the dual nature of our passions— that fire burning within us—which can either be nourishing or wreack havoc on ourselves and those around us. 

Earth is what makes life as we know it possible. It represents the tangible, the physical world. From the earth we get fruits and vegetables to eat, and on it grow the trees, which are in charge of cleaning the air we breathe. All the topography, all the animals, even us human beings, exist because the earth is there to give us shelter. Much like the earth is a shelter for us, our bodies function as shelters to our souls. Through them, our souls experience reality. 

Finally, water can be found in several states: liquid (as in rivers, seas, wells), solid (in the shape of ice), and steam. It can be sweet or salty, depending on the source. It is said water is the liquid of life, as we need it to live as badly as we need air. We are 65% water : blood, perspiration , salivary juices— only to mention a few. Like air, water makes our lives possible; not only as regards the functioning of our bodies but also as regards our daily habits and needs, such as washing and cooking. In our composition, water reflects our mood: we sweat when we are nervous; we cry when we are sad; we may spit when we are angry (okay, some do!); and even our blood pressure goes up when we go through a hard time, evoking the image of a tsunami within us; just to mention a few. Also, most people associate the view of a calm sea with peace. 

Air, fire, earth, water. Their nature is also our nature. 

~*Princess of the Stars*~

Farewell, Steve

I’m writing this post in black in mourning. It is by now of public knowledge that Steve Jobs, former Apple CEO and co-founder, passed away on October 5th. In the era of technology, it was only natural that most of us got the news via a technological device that exists —to some extent— thanks to Steve. Although everybody knew that Steve had been fighting a rare kind of pancreatic cancer for years, the news of his decease came as a shock to most and brought world-wide grief.

  Journalists all over the world are wondering why Steve’s passing made  such a global impact, especially in people who never got the chance to  meet him. Maybe the answer is —at least in most cases— that the gadgets that Steve helped create have changed our lives in a way we couldn’t have dreamed of. Indeed, he was a visionary and a great leader.  Although  many people claim that as Steve dropped out of college in an  early stage all the  engineering work was performed by others —like co-  founder Woz— and therefore Steve doesn’t deserve much of a credit, the  truth is that many of the ideas came from him and if Apple ever got to be  more than just a two-partners-company in a garage, it was certainly  because of Steve’s  ambition and capacity of dreaming big, along with the assertive  personality of one who knew what he really wanted from life. Of course, everyone who’s ever worked for Apple deserves credit for its success, don’t get me wrong, I’m just saying Steve also does.

For those of us who have ever heard his speech for Standford‘s Commencement Address of 2005, Steve may be something more than just a billionaire businessman who changed the way we interact with reality. The first time I ever heard about Steve was precisely because of this speech. It turns out that my dad is the kind of father who is always pushing his kids to keep studying and developing their professional skills for life, and to make their professions their passion. Being so, he couldn’t let go the oportunity to show me Steve’s motivational speech. I don’t remember exactly the year it was —maybe April 2009—, but it was well after he actually delivered it. Anyway, the truths Steve expressed in the speech marked me deeply, as he striked me as a role model: someone who always knew what he wanted and struggled to get it, not giving up despite the many obstacles in his way. He also shared a belief with me: that if we ‘connect the dots’ in our lives, we see everything happens for a reason. You could really see how his personality was shaped by everything that happened to him, good and bad, changing his outlook on life and making him into a humble man with family values. I saw him as a man beaten by life from the very beginning who nevertheless strived to be happy and change the world. It’s true: he was neither a philanthropist nor a religious leader; he didn’t change that part of reality, but his contributions did change the way we relate to the world and our everyday habits, and that was exactly what he wanted to achieve. Since the very day I listened to his speech, I’ve tried to make my loved ones read it or listen to it, and I even picked it out when a teacher asked me to choose a famous speech to practise oratory. 

I’ve been meaning to write this homage to Steve since the very day he left us, but the truth is that I was deeply saddened by his departure, so much so that I even cried when I got the news and couldn’t help my eyes from filling with tears everytime I heard his speech all over again. Once in a while something happens in life or we meet someone that makes us realize why we are here for; that’s what Steve did for me with that speech and with the way he lived his own life. Thank you Steve Jobs for inspiring me to live fully and follow my heart, to live each day as if it was my last and to go on no matter what. I only hope I can someday embody these ‘purely intellectual concepts’ and practise what I preach, just like you did. I look up to you, metaphorically and now, sadly, literally as well. I can only imagine the pain your family must be going through, and I hope they can be strong enough to carry on with a smile as both the memory of you and every device you helped create stare at them. You’ll be missed, Steve, but I’ll make sure as both a prospective mother and a teacher that your words and story live on.  

I’m leaving you all Steve’s speech, in case you haven’t already listened to it. Love,

~* Princess of the Stars *~

Water

   A few days ago, I was getting back home by bus, as I always do. I turned my mp3 player on, put the headphones on my ears, and had an interesting thought. I don’t know where it came from. I was just too tired; it was one of those moments when your conscious mind slips into your unconscious mind while music fills the background and you listen to the song and it tells you something that it doesn’t really say. Well…this time it was water

 Water is the liquid of life. According to http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/fcs3/fcs3530/fcs3530.pdf, “The human body is approximately 65 percent water. This water performs a lot of functions that are critical to staying healthy. While we can live for a long time without food, we can survive only a few days without water or some other liquid to hydrate our bodies.” Among the body functions in which water participates, they mention transportation [through our blood, which is 83% water], lubrication [of the mucous linings of organs, the fluids between internal organs and the joints]digestion [in mucus and salivary juices], temperature control [mainly through perspiration], synthetic reactions [digesting both protein and carbohydrates and building hormones and enzimes] and waste removal [through perspiration and exhalation, besides easing its way through our kidneys and large intestines]. Leaving aside the scientific facts about the role water plays in our body functions, we also use water to perform daily chores such as cooking and washing -bathing ourselves and washing clothes, dishes, etc- and we have it as a drink per se or have drinks which of course are made from water. 

   When we come to think of the important role water plays in our lives, it shouldn’t be so difficult to follow the crazy thought I had; even though I only made this connection later. It’s curious how water in its natural state flows merrily and wild and it seems nothing can harm it in any way. When it evaporates, it would seem as if it ran away from harm and hid in a safe place…much as we do when we daydream to evade ourselves from the depressing reality we live in. But when water hardens into ice, it becomes vulnerable to harm, besides being cold.

  It’s curious how water in its different states mirrors human emotions. We are naturally merry, filled with life. Sometimes, we wish for things we don’t have and imagine how our lives would change with those things in them; this doesn’t necessarily imply sadness or regret…it can also mean hope. But when life gets hard and unbearable, we get depressed and stressed out and become vulnerable. Just like ice, negative thoughts inhabit us and make us be cold and indifferent to others sometimes. This can become a vicious circle when people feel offended by our actions and hurt us back with their words. Maybe it’s just a crazy metaphor, but it doesn’t sound all that crazy when we learn water runs in us. 

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