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|"Pain is sweeter than any rose.|
Adrenaline pulsating through your body
Wrapping and dancing in your veins
Every nerve, every capillary,
bubbling with determination
In doubt, in suffering,
In failure, pain allows you to persevere.
Pushing, shoving, kicking you down, picking you up.
Pain is your strength, and pain is your weakness.
Rolling on your arms it yells honor.
Running on your thighs it whispers courage.
Down your backside, it shrieks commitment.
In your chest, it says pride.
In your mind it cries stop.
In your heart it screams keep going."
"Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life. Think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. Determination is the way to success."
I hated every minute of training, but I said, "Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion." The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights. -Muhammad Ali
Amber eyes opened and took in the blackness. Chilly air snatched the exhale from his lungs. He breathed again. His ears adjusted to the deafening morning silence. The wood floor gave an icy welcome to his bare feet. He shivered.
Tiny sparks cracked as they caught the wood. Flames tickled the bottom of the iron pot hanging from the makeshift hook. The fire-bender sat idly in the darkness as he waited for the water to boil. There wasn't enough money for tea, so water would have to do.
He pulled a tattered grey sweater over his tank. Ever so delicately, he wrapped his rough, working hands in layers of white tape. Flexing, feeling returned to his fingertips. The water steamed as he poured it into a small cup. The vapor curled through the air, and he brought the drink to his lips. He winced as the water scalded the roof of his mouth. He was awake. Noiselessly, he slipped out the door.
The wintry morning air and the fire-bender briefly bid each other good morning. The sun still slept, yet to paint the pale sky with its light. Soft frost blanketed the grass. Piercing wind nipped at his uncovered ears. He glanced around; all of Republic City slept peacefully. Taking a deep breath, he began to jog. Down the center of the street he ran, arms relaxed, feet connecting easily with the concrete.
Following the familiar route, he passed broken memories: defunct brick buildings and narrow alleyways where he used to live. He never looked back. Hugging the sidewalk, he turned onto the main street and headed North. During the day, politicians and Republic City big-shots did their business in the financial district. Republic City held the cruel power to lift someone up or tear them down. To some, the concrete jungle represented a chance at greatness: to others, an ever present reminder of failure. Skyscrapers loomed on both sides, but his focus remained forward.
The fire-bender took short, controlled breathes as he quickened his pace. Outside the metropolis, pine forests sprawled far and wide. At the outskirts, the crowded hustle and bustle of city life receded into natural woodlands. He breathed in the refreshing air and listened closely. Unlike the soundless city of stone, the forest played a calming melody of swaying trees and rustling leaves. The rhythmic strides became accustomed to the soft earth, bedded with rusty pine needles. At the base of the mountains, the ground inclined slightly.
Pumping his arms and driving his knees, he climbed higher and higher, weaving between the trees. Everywhere he looked, his eyes were met with the same forest view, but he knew this route by heart. Physically, his heart beat faster as he exerted more energy to keep his pace. The slope steepened, but his destination wasn't far.
The air thinned as he gained altitude. Away from the city smog, the natural ozone helped him think clearly. He concentrated on controlling his movements, even though his muscles gasped for oxygen. Finally, the clearing came into view and he came to a panting stop. The flat edge of the cliff overlooked Republic City. Stretching his hands behind his head, he freed his lungs and took deep breaths. Gold tinted the Eastern sky as the sun yawned and rubbed its eyes.
Closing his eyes, the fire-bender relaxed and balanced his mind. Mental fortitude trumps physical prowess every time. In the heat of a pro-bending match, quick decisions and instinct decide the outcome. Intelligence can dissect any situation into simple pieces. The strong take from the weak, but the smart take from the strong. With eyes closed, he began his training.
Alone on that mountain cliff, the street rat tapped into the origins of fire-bending. He envisioned the battle in his mind. Sensing a weakness in his opponent's defense, he drew power from within and kept his solid stance. Practicing the fundamentals, he focused on breathing and positioning: performing a simple action with efficiency. He danced through the training forms, climbing the slope of difficulty. As the sun rose, his quickness and agility increased. The Master watched as his student tempered his skills.
Fire-bending is rooted in quick advances and retreats, taking advantage of the situation. Drawing power from wide stances and balance, a fire-bender applies a succession of offense, keeping the opponent at bay. The best defense is a good offense. The fire-bender wrote beautiful poetry as he danced with flames on the cliff. Streaming fluid movements connected with powerful decisive blows to create an unstoppable onslaught. Power emanated from the stomach, coursed through the arms, and released through his fingers. The air became charged with intensity.
He practiced every situation that chance could throw at him. He believed that a pro-bending match is won during training, while nobody is watching. When the spotlights flashed and the crowd roared, he would be ready. Fire can be a wild, destructive element. With patience and discipline, the fighter made the power his own. Finishing the advanced routine, he linked a flurry of quick jabs with a balance of sweeping kicks and delivered the final blow. Relaxing his muscles, he brought his hands together at his torso and breathed deeply, maintaining balance the entire time. He opened his eyes.
The sun peaked over the Eastern mountains, casting shadows on the Republic City skyscrapers. He could make out all the boroughs, rich and poor. His life lay before him. He sat cross-legged with a straight back. Right now, Bolin was probably still snoring. Shopkeepers were probably rolling out of bed. Businessmen were letting the shower wash away the sleep. Right now, the streets of Republic City were just coming to life.
Success doesn't sleep. While the world dreamed sweet dreams about rainbows and butterflies, the young fire-bender gained crucial hours of training over the competition. Some people say they want to be successful, but they don't want it bad. They don't want it as bad as they want to party. They don't want it as much as they want to be cool. Most of them don't want success as much as they want to sleep. If you go to sleep, you might miss the opportunity to be successful; you have the opportunity to make a dream reality. The world is a cruel and nasty place and it will beat you down and leave you broken on the sidewalk. Nothing will hit as hard as the world. But, it's not about how hard you get hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and rise again. That's how success is achieved.
One day, they will pack into the Pro-Bending Arena and they will witness the incredible. In silent awe, they will witness unmatched determination. They will witness weaving through pine trees. They will witness sunrise flames on the mountain. They will witness a young man rise above the rest. They will stand in thunderous applause of the greatest show the world has ever seen.
Mako stood up and wiped the sweat off his brow. Closing his eyes, he resumed his training.
- Dedicated to Henry for always supporting me; thank you for driving me to be successful :)
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Elements of Life|