Focus on the elements, and you’ll meet emotion. The placid lake will give you quietude, but if coated with humidity, a mixed feeling that brings no repose. Fire blazing will bring fear and disorientation, but if you looked at the still blue within the scalding orange, you’ll find that even torture holds calm. The air isn’t felt or seen, unless you let it touch you, and that requires an absolute disconnection from the chime, or books read or in our postmodern world, technology. And when you let it faintly graze you, you’ll know solitude, but you’ll still never see it, and that’s the enigma, which evades even the mind’s eye. And finally the earth: Organic and tangible. When imbued with petrichor, its flavor changes, but it’s still what it is. And this is poetry: A serene piece like a soft prayer of thankfulness, or a psalm of David giving you those mixed, hostile feelings before the final note of catharsis. The fiery rage against disease or injustice, yet possessing endurance, and something ethereal that isn’t seen, but felt only if you immerse yourself in it. And finally metaphors like a slab of bloody meat, butchered but full of protein. And even if it’s cooked like a well-done steak, with a pleasing aroma, it’s still without a golden halo. It’s food for the body: great in taste and vitality. But art and the elements don’t make us. They influence us in ways we allow them too, but the soul exists outside them, even though they affect the body or mind, and this is the separation that keeps us at a healthy distance, and getting too close only leads to delusion, reducing a person to mere abstractions while they think it’s elevating them to transcendence. Art and the elements are mediums. So we don’t worship or embody them. We use them and are thankful to providence for giving us these gifts or curses – depending on our perceptions, which change if we allow them too.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

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