|More from Typhoonmaster||Humor/Drama||PG||Positive||One-shot|
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|"Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again"|
|— Og Mandino|
Sitting around a bonfire, Aang, Sokka, and Zuko "talk about their feelings."
His forehead wrinkled in deep focus. Suddenly his eyes lit up. "Okay I have a really good one! Stuck in a room with Professor Zei or the swamp guys?!"
The other two glanced to the side, trying to avoid the eager warrior's question. But, Sokka broke the silence,
Zuko rubbed his temples, "I don't know! I've never even met either of them. This is so stupid....."
"What do you think, air-head?"
Aang lay flat on his back, gazing up at the vast night sky, "I'd probably have to go with the professor. He didn't try to kill us with vines, and he called me a living relic. That's good right?"
Sokka sat up, "That's not the point, and do you realize how boring it would be confined in a space with that man? You would have to listen to him drone on and on about books and the texture of the pages."
Sokka waved his hands and raised his voice, "Simply fascinating! Marvelous! I cannot grasp the utter ingenuity of the dust coating this text!"
Aang and Zuko broke into laughter. Sokka shifted next to Aang and grabbed his sleeve. Bringing his eyes close, he scrutinized each and every thread in the yellow and orange garment.
"Hmmmm...this is rare fabric is it not? Hand-woven by the Air Nomads you say? Exquisite! Well, this is certainly one for the journal."
Sokka returned to his spot, "See what I mean?"
"Yea, now that you mention it, I don't think I could handle THAT for an extended period of time."
Sokka crawled over to the fire-bender, "Hmmm, an authentic Fire Nation prince, a descendant of a long lineage of conquerors. Son of Ozai and Ursa, less talented than Azula-"
"You must be Zuko, also known as Sifu Hotman!"
"Stop calling me that!"
Aang smiled to himself. It was Sokka's idea to go on a "men only camping trip." Apparently the men of the Southern Water Tribe embarked on long hunting trips, relying on their instincts and wits to outsmart the forces of nature. The blizzards were no match for a man with a level head and sense of direction. Luckily, the Earth Kingdom wilderness was far cozier than the icy tundra of the South Pole.
Tonight, the sky was clear so the three decided to sleep under the stars. A blazing bonfire happily leaped and danced. The shadows of the three friends flickered in mirror image with the orange flames. From a distance, the fire glowed comfortably, beckoning the hypothetical passerby to stop and contemplate joining the three laughing teenagers. Aang looked upon the brightness. He felt comfortable, somehow. The warmth melted away his regrets and shortcomings as he enjoyed the company of the warrior and fire-bender. He felt at home, not a familiar feeling to a Nomad.
"Everyone was right about you lacking any remote sense of humor."
The blankets and tents lay untouched, neatly folded to the side. The summer grass and warm breeze proved a sufficient bed in the open air.
"How could you say that? I have a sense of humor!"
The delicate wind rolled over the grassy expanse like rippling waves, carrying the aroma of the summer wildflowers.
"Have you listened to the conversations you have with Mai?"
All sorts of restless critters argued back in forth, indifferent to the three souls in their midst. Crickets played their violins, nightingales chirped their folksongs, and the fireflies provided the natural ambiance.
"What about them?"
Everything felt so perfect right now. Aang could lie there forever, letting his thoughts wander. He felt so small compared to the sky that stretched everywhere he looked. He fell into the starry night.
Sokka put on a straight face, "This is what you two sound like."
"What do you mean?"
"Do something to make me less bored."
The monks used to say a star is created when all of the elements combine. Aang smiled to himself, "the Avatar is like a star." Monk Gyatso said, "Aspire to be like the stars, detach yourself high above the world. Aspire to be like the stars, and you may transcend death." Were the stars all of the wise monks who freed their spirits? There are soooo many!
"Ugh! We say other things besides that! You're leaving out so much!"
"Oh yea, my apologies." Sokka cleared his throat and continued his impersonations:
"Get me some food."
"Here's a lobster."
"I hate lobster."
Zuko pinched the bridge of his nose and winced, "That's not what we're like!"
A moment of silence ensued, but not for long. Aang made not attempt to conceal his inner thoughts, "Did you guys know there are more stars in the sky than grains of sand on earth?"
Sokka raised an eyebrow, "You've got to be kidding me. Have you ever been to the beach? A handful of sand has thousands of grains by itself. Making that beautiful sand sculpture of Suki used a ton of handfuls. Scientifically speaking, there must be-"
He paused for a second and calculated. "If you count every single beach on earth, there are probably more than a trillion grains of sand."
Zuko turned to the young air-bender, "Is that true?"
"I'm not sure, I mean. I've never counted all the stars. But, that's what the monks told me. I think they were trying to explain the size of the universe."
"I never really thought about that-" Zuko tilted his head back and looked into the night sky. He began wondering:
"As the Avatar, you're the most powerful person in the world. But in the universe, you're just a passing second in the scheme of things. All the impact you make is gone in a flash," he paused, "It really puts things in perspective."
Aang still lay on his back, his hands supporting the back of his head, "Even though that's true...It doesn't mean we should stop mattering. If that makes any sense."
Having experienced the depth of poverty and the pinnacle of royalty, Zuko understood, "I think I know what you mean."
"Do you want to know what I think?"
They looked at Sokka, who had been relatively quiet until then. He stared into the bonfire. The way he sat still, mesmerized, made Aang very aware of the depth of the conversation. Sokka could be a goof, but his serious side never failed to present itself.
"I can't wait to hear this," Zuko smirked.
Sokka made no remarks to Zuko. Then he spoke: "The universe is a calm ocean. We sail everyday of our lives without a map or destination. If you've ever sailed alone, it's a hard task because you have to control the bow, rudder, and jib with two hands. It's tough. That's why a lot of people sail together; it's easier and more enjoyable. The wind will blow on your back if you believe it will. The seas are only rough for the unprepared, and all life is sailing."
"Wow Sokka, that was beautiful," Aang smiled at the older boy in admiration.
Aang spoke: "I believe all life is love. When you strip away the hatred, sorrow, and loss, only love remains. Love of family, love of friends, love of life itself, it's what connects us. People try to search for happiness in power. But, they really pursue love, and to be loved. I'm not talking about romance or kissing. I'm talking about the choice to sacrifice every bit of your being for someone else. In this mysterious universe, we find our solace in love."
Sokka and Aang turned to Zuko.
"I guess it's your turn to spill it," Sokka grinned.
The fire-bender breathed deeply and the bonfire died down. The flames receded into the embers from which they came. Lying back in the soft grass, Zuko looked up at the captivating stars in wonder.
He finally spoke: "We are so young....and we've experienced so much already," he paused, "but there's so much more. How can we be justified in our beliefs if we have only walked on our own two feet and seen the world through our own eyes? How can we possibly sit by this bonfire and unravel life? We will search all our lives, but on our deathbed, who says we will have discovered the answer? And if we somehow discovered the meaning of life, would we say it out loud? Or would we let the youth figure it out for themselves?"
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Elements of Life|