They are not the only dreamers. Theirs are not the only plans. The balance will be restored. The air wills it, the fire desires it, the water bears it on the waves and the earth prepares itself for change again. And everywhere, the White Lotus blooms.
Water comes in many forms, but all are moved by the tide.
When she is small the walls are made of ice. It isn't cold, because they are out of the wind and the new fallen snow covers the village like a fluffy white blanket. As the Benders disappear, the ice walls crumble. No one can repair them, or protect them from the glare of the sun. Before her mother is taken, the last of the walls have gone, and they live in tents made of whale-caribou hide. The Fire Nation soldiers laugh at them and threaten to burn the village to the ground, but they only ram their ships into the pitted rampart walls and leave. The sailors take it in rotation to maintain the rampart wall. It breaks her heart to see them carry snow and ice, heavy on their backs, and clumsily extend the heights. She longs to make the walls rise gracefully from the pack ice, like she sees in her dreams, but she knows it isn't safe yet. So she watches, and she learns, and she swears to always protect her home.
If you build your house of Earth, your neighbour may steal your living room.
The best houses in the Earth Kingdom are made of wood. Wood must be carved by hand, painstakingly detailed. Wood must be stained and sealed to protect it from the rain and sun. Wood can be painted many bright colours. Wood cannot be moved by an Earth Bender. Her parents' house is wood from floor to ceiling. She hates it. Even barefoot under her hanbok, she can barely sense the earth's vibrations. In her parents' house, she is blind. It is why she loves the garden so much. She cannot see the colours of the flower bed and she cannot make up stories about the shapes of the clouds, but she can sense people coming and going, and she can feel the world through the soles of her feet. Her parents think she is telling them tales, they cannot believe that their poor, blighted daughter is so gifted, but the badger-moles know the truth, and they teach her what others refuse. When they tell her of the Bending Matches, how none of those who compete can match her skill, she knows that she is ready to leave all the wood behind and face the earth at last.
Fire keeps a house warm, but it cannot replace a family's love.
His sister burns so brightly that he is afraid of her fury. His father burns so darkly that it consumes all of his air and he cannot breathe. His uncle burns so quietly that his heart wells up in sorrow. His mother no longer burns at all. One of the first things his masters teach him is that a fire needs a fuel source to burn, that the fuel must be in balance to the flame, or the fire will be extinguished. His father and sister burn so hotly, he doubts they can last for long. He chooses to model himself on the slow burn of his uncle, much to his sister's scorn and his father's blatant distaste. Only once does he allow the fire to rage hot within him, and he will forever bear the scar. Instead he seethes, simmering quietly as he thinks his uncle does, waiting for the right moment. He masks his impatience, biding his time, and if the mask slips, he knows it can be blamed upon his lack of practice. It will be a very long time before he realizes that his uncle never wore a mask at all.
The air nomads are like the platypus-wolverine: they enjoy pulling up tent pegs and running away.
He doesn't spend a lot of time with people who aren't Benders. Afterwards, it will be his chief regret. He knows all about Air Bending, but he doesn't know the Air Nomads very well at all. He immerses himself in their lifestyle whenever he can, travelling hither and yon at will, where ever the wind takes him, but it isn't the same. He wonders what will happen the next time the cycle comes around. He wonders if it's his duty to have many children and hope for the best. He wonders if it would be better to ride the camelsharks in fall or spring. He is too much a child to be grown up yet. And always, he longs for home, even if he can't understand its form. He finds it as new friends replace the old, as new skills hone themselves with careful training, and as he realizes the measure of the fight in which he is engaged. He cannot save the world: he can only do his part. And then it will be time to go home.
Each element belongs to its own, but the White Lotus blooms in every nation.
Gravity_Not_Included, August 21, 2009