Yesterday, I went on a property tour with Jon Hanna, the local real estate agent in Santa Catalina to learn more about the area and scout some potential investment opportunities for my real estate clients.
Our first stop was a house high on the hill — a large round home on approximately 36 acres that’s visible from everywhere in Santa Catalina.
This home offers views for days. You can see all of Santa Catalina.
Playa El Estero beach:
Santa Catalina Island:
and through the rolling hills to the village below.
The property is abundant with trees.
In a place like East Hampton, or the lush hills of Connecticut or Westchester County — areas near my home where I spend my time — this collection of trees would represent a 6- or 7-figure investment in landscaping, plus easily a 6-figure investment to maintain the landscaping.
I met “Punky,” the charming homeowner. Punky said that when he bought the land it was cattle farm — there were very few trees.
Punky explained how the wind blows the seeds into the ground and then the rainy season comes and the trees grow over time.
Punky didn’t landscape the property. He let nature take its course.
Once again, it led me to consider that maybe we do too much.
As Punky explained how the wind blows the seeds, it struck me that we are always planting seeds.
Some will take hold in the earth and grow roots and turn into trees. Others won’t.
What determines the results of the seeds of our intentions, desires, and ideas is the way the elements work together.
The Symbolism of the Elements
In the wisdom traditions, each element of nature is a symbol for a part of our human experience.
Considering this in terms of the symbolism of the natural elements, here’s a brief overview.
Wind = Intellect
Wind is the intellect. That’s what blows the seeds of our ideas. It directs and carries the seeds to their planting ground.
Earth = Physical Foundation
Earth is the grounding that holds space for the seeds. The seeds must land in something. They must be physically grounded to even have a chance. The environment in which a seed takes root can determine the seed’s success in growing. Different seeds flourish in different types of soil.
Not much grows in the sand. A seed needs a more firm and nurturing soil bed to germinate and sprout roots.
Once they land in the earth they require two things to grow: sun and rain.
Sun = Will & Determination
Sun is fire, the element of will and determination. It is also our inner light, the source of divine inspiration.
Fire can heal, mend, purify, and create — think of how the sun feels on a cold day, how a fire can melt metal to allow two steel rods to attach. Or how we use fire to boil water and cook food.
But without care and moderation fire can also burn: the sun feels good until you get too much; food left in the fire for too long becomes charred and no longer nourishes. Any substance left in or on the fire for too long will melt until unusable or it disappears.
Water = Emotion
Water tames the heat of fire and provides sustenance to the seeds. If there’s no rain, the trees won’t grow; those that exist will eventually die out. Fire, left untamed, destroys.
Panama is currently in its dry season. The hills are parched; grass is brown, there are few flowers. In the rainy season, the water brings the landscape to life with lush greenery and the colors of flowers.
Water is the element of emotion. If we have no emotion to support an idea, it won’t flourish.
Applying the Elements in Our Lives
Just like in nature, we must blow our idea seeds in the right environment for those seeds to take root.
We must support those seeds with will and determination.
But will and determination, without a containing force, will destroy us and burn us out.
That containing force is our emotion, the sustenance of life.