Elements Of Life

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The Elements of Life Part I Throughout history, people have always tried to understand life; then eventually, try to master it. As the people set out to find eternal life, many different schools of thoughts and ideas arise. But strangely, all these diverse philosophies settled on the idea of life being composed of "Five Elements". Oh all the different systems of elements, I find that the Chinese Elements of Life most intriguing.

The Chinese system of elements, called Wu Xing, is composed of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Although no official records were found, the Chinese were believed to have developed this system early in the third century B. C. It was greatly popularized by the Dao-ists. Dao-ism was a philosophy dealing with the way of life, which later evolved into a religion. The founder of Dao-ism, Lo Si, incorporated the Wu Xing into the Ying and Yang.

Not only was the Wu Xing a significant part of Dao-ism, it can also be considered the foundation of Chinese medicine. The Chinese believes that the Wu Xing dictates different parts of a human body, each of the elements working in harmony with another. The Chinese believes that when a person is ill, it is because of the Wu Xing being unbalanced.

The Chinese Wu Xing is a big part of my everyday life. Living in a traditional Chinese family, my grandmother would often apply the Wu Xing. She would purchase a special mixture of medicine, which highly resembles tree branches (Wood). The she would boil them (Water) for a specific amount of time, resulting in a thick bowl of mud (Earth). I would try hard (Metal) in attempt to resist. She would then get upset (Fire), and insist that it was for my own good. Aside from the pathetic attempt of humor, the Wu Xing does influence my life to a significant degree. As an American-Chinese, I've developed a great interest in the Chinese history (as if you have not discovered with the two paragraph of introduction). As I venture through pages and pages of history books, I found that the Wu Xing is not merely a philosophical study, but instead a way of life. As time passed, the Wu Xing did evolve, but merely a physical change, not chemical. Today, the Wu Xing still remains to be a part of our everyday lives. Although, Shaq cannot increase his free-throw percentage by pinning his "wood", he does attend acupuncture sessions to relieve stress physically and mentally. All we need to do is to look closely, and we'll find that most everything associated with the Chinese are somehow related to the Wu Xing.

Part II Each of the elements on the periodic table has an interesting fact about them. To find one which interest me, I set out and read a little about each one of them. One of the elements I find interesting would be the man-made Europium. It is used primarily to make color television. The name, obviously, originated from Europe. What I find interesting, rather ironic, is that none of the "better" television brands are even made by Europeans. I would have thought this element would perhaps be named Sony-um, or Panasonic-ium. The second one that interests me is the Thorium. I'm intrigued by this element by a rather personal reason, for The Mighty Thor has always been my favorite comic hero. What surprised me is that I had always thought that Thor was a Greek God. Instead, he turned out to be a Scandinavian God. The third interesting elements would be the Krypton. In my mind, I've always thought that Krypton would be a green piece of rock (wonder where that image came from). Instead, Krypton turns out to be a colorless gas derived from making liquid air. This next element is one that I've been pondering about"¦ Platinum. After reading and re-reading the classification, I'm still wondering why was I charge half a month's salary for a birthday present made of this metal. I would've called this "overpriced, but you're in love, so too bad-ium". The last element would be the Lithium. It would be nice to find out about an element which we interact with everyday. I had pictured this element to be a great big element with many protons and electrons, since it's used to carry energy. But to my surprise, it consists of only three protons and electrons.