I love to watch a program called “Moving Art” on Netflix. The beautiful time-lapse films of Louis Schwartzberg set to soothing instrumentals make me feel calm and peaceful, and set the tone for a weekend of writing and reflection. Today, I started with “Waterfalls,” and it has given me a welcome pause in the midst of promoting Maisie’s List on the home front and our school book fair at work.
It helps, don’t you think, to stop every now and then for a little perspective?
Like the earth, our bodies are roughly 70% water (nasa.gov). But, the similarities go far deeper than that, and actually provide evidence of our ties to creation and the natural world. We are, in fact, brothers and sisters with water and share many of the family traits.
Water is both creative and destructive. Wow, that’s a big one, isn’t it? Without water, life could not exist. Look at barren deserts versus my own native southeastern United States. I see green everywhere around me, and an eternal cycle of life driven by the warmth or lack of warmth of the water in the ground and the air. But just as it is the foundation of life, it can rush through in the form of a flood or a hurricane, and take out everything in its path. We do that too, don’t we? We create beautiful gardens and beautiful buildings, but in the flash of an eye we can destroy everything beautiful, stripping life-giving topsoil and rerouting life-sustaining water, tearing down the old, beautifully hand-crafted buildings for new, lifeless monstrosities of concrete and steel. But water is more powerful than we are. No matter how we try to control it, water holds the winning ace that can wipe away all of the construction or destruction that humans do.
Water carries the debris and elements of everything over which it flows. Everything. When we test water, we find microscopic creatures, elements from rocks and soil, and the debris of things both living and dead. We do that too. Our bodies are the product of how we live and what we put in them, and our characteristics reflect the events of our lives, changing as those events, for better or for worse, impact who we are. Sometimes we carry debris of our pasts, but pushing past the boulders and dams in our way, we can flow onward to new circumstance and purpose. We can also be filled with our own form of microbes, little moments that give us joy or sadness and make us feel alive.
When water is dammed, the living things it supported ahead of it become diminished or even die. When it is unnaturally held back, it will eventually break loose of its confinement in an uncontrolled deluge. If we become bogged down in the obstacles placed in our way, our futures become diminished, don’t they? And if our strong emotions stay pent up too long, they can let loose in a very forceful, sometimes very destructive, way. Like water, we are more powerful than the obstacles that block our progress. We can wear them away slowly with a steady application of will, or we can break them altogether if we exert our full force on them. As the rain swells the reservoir to overflow the dam, or the river to overflow its banks, we can let the good in the world fill us up and push past all the barriers that the bad would use to control or contain us, or we can allow the worst of it to hold us back from living and sustaining life.
Water exists in many different forms and environments. Sometimes it is a marsh. Sometimes it is an ocean. It can be a pond or a lake or a glacier. Everywhere it is–and it is everywhere–it impacts the environment, providing for a wonderous diversity of living things. We are like that too, aren’t we? Thriving in different, sometimes unimaginable places, adapting to the environment around us, nature has created a wonderful diversity of humans. We can also “bloom where we’re planted,” to adopt another metaphor, and create beauty based on the resources around, just as salt water provides life for sea stars and coal reefs; marshes nurture marsh birds and alligators; and icy seas sustain penguins and polar bears. Isn’t that amazing?
Water has its time on the earth, then evaporates into the clouds to return as life-giving rain. We do that, too, don’t we? We have our time on earth, however long or short, to affect the world as we flow through it. No matter how we live, we impact everything we touch, for good or for bad, for constructive or for destructive. Keep in mind, though, that destroying something is not always a bad thing, if you also provide the nuturing for it to be reborn in another form. How do we come back? I have no doubt that we do, but I’ll leave you to decide for yourself what form you will take. I would love to hear your thoughts if you feel inclined to share them.
If my medium was verse instead of prose, I would write an ode to water, and perhaps someday I will. In the meantime, I’m never going to look at water quite the same way, whether it’s coming out of the tap or a puddle in the street or the crashing waves of the ocean.
Just a thoughtful pause to brighten your day.