You sit outside in the February chill, crisp clear skies are filled with painful white and blue; the contrast at 7000 feet can be retina-searing. The wind swirls by you quickly, in small puffs as if the glaciers hundreds of miles away were panting from lifting the heavy weight of winter. Spring is slow; the green takes months to emerge and even then, its colors are even tardier. Chill breezes cause our diaphragm to expand, to breathe deeply, and let the freshness fill our blood. Our mind clears a little, we feel lighter, connected to some invisible terrestrial life force.
You open the door to the steaming shower and step inside, cringing at the immediate sting on skin, the itch rising to the surface. Standing with your back to the water, the warmth seeps into your shoulders. Your head, at first feeling the water chill, soon succumbs to its velvet blanket heat. There’s something that loosens the tight body and mind. We feel a slight tingly energy standing in the spray, wishing we could have it surround us more, wrap lovingly like mother’s arms, just… holding us still in timeless comfort. Peace. It soothes us without thought, erasing away demons and letting them circle the drain. Gone.
You shift again.
There’s something oddly fulfilling about taking a walk on bare sand , the slight give of the chill grains as they seep between your toes and scrub off the feel of tight-woven socks. Feet in the mud, soft and silky between toes, almost tickling, and the fresh, loamy scent of water and dirt defying a rain storm. We seem almost afraid of the earth, afraid to let it embrace our bodies. We have a primal dislike for our future home, one speculates. Ash and stone, mud and rock, if we allow ourselves, it helps us feel solid, at peace. Stable. A home. Perhaps a once and future home.
Humans are fascinated with fire. Prometheus’ gift is a blessing to human kind, allowing us warmth and food to last throughout the most extreme winters. The scent of sulfur when the match strikes, and we anticipate the orange and yellow temptation of light and scent to the candle wick. Hand passing over the flame, we feel the touch of death. And life. We learn as children to respect the fires around us, to use them sparingly. It’s almost as if there is an unspoken rule – fire can be wasted. Don’t waste your fire. It is precious to you. To me. Fire heals and harms, is soothing and painful. Fire transforms.
There is a dance between humans and their environment. We have only our senses to feed us data and a brain to transform it into information. These elements inform us, partner with us, sustain us, hold us in life and death. They provide for us and take from us. They use us and we use them. We form bonds of familiarity, affinity, and disregard. I hate the cold. I hate the heat. I like the rain. I’d rather have wind. Why do we find ourselves loving or hating an inanimate element so fiercely?
Perhaps because it is us. And we never do very well in dealing with our own natures. Rocks tumble against each other and wear each other down because they both have pokey bits. Neither of them are smooth. Nature and the elements, they are not necessarily kind to Humanity. Neither, it seems, is Humanity good to them. We are fascinated by our earthly natures, testing and touching those parts of us that are so basic and yet, so foreign. Humans create other humans using these elements – they are our plaster, mud, ink, and pigment, tears nerves, and blood. Compositions in animated elements.
You’d think we would be nicer to each other, being one in the same.
It is alchemy that we search for in our basic parts. It is the alchemy of rainstorm to glacier, of fire to lightning, of plant to paper, of wind to power. That same alchemy can be found in us, nervous system all ablaze with creation and wisdom, intelligence and naïveté. Perhaps, we think, perhaps that amazing alchemy can be found within ourselves, within our creations. And what we never really realize, what we cannot see because we are too close, to microscopically close is that…we already have. Alchemy is everywhere, always, continuous. Breathe. That is alchemy. Thought. That is alchemy. A child born, the aged die – that is alchemy.
We are creatures of wonder in a world of wonder. Wake up from the dream, and See.