PennDot (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) has decided that this is the year to repair a number of the bridges in our area that are aging and/or in disrepair. While I applaud this effort, and I’m happy to see it being undertaken, I must confess, on a number of occasions, when I saw the “Bridge Construction to begin on DD/MM” sign, I wondered to myself, “What bridge?”.
The thing is, around here, there are so many bridges that they become and inconspicuous part of the landscape, we don’t even notice them most of the time. There are many homes with culverts and small “bridges” as part of their driveway, sidewalk, or main entrance to their home. Just this past weekend at a birthday picnic, the soda bottles were kept in the creek – no need to chill them in the fridge. I pay flood insurance, which is mandated by law if you live, or own a business, on a floodplain.
But this definitely isn’t Venice. We simply have many streams, creeks, rivulets, lakes, ponds, rivers, and other various waterways. And then there’s the rain. Again, we don’t live in a monsoon prone area, but generally, it rains in Spring. For days, sometimes weeks. And it often rains in Fall. Again, for days that morph into weeks – there’s an entire mountain biking series named “Month of Mud” because of the quantity of mud usually involved at that time of the year.
Water is a regular part of our lives around here, whether we choose to acknowledge, or even notice, it. However, for me it is something I tend to pay regular attention to. Do I need to water my garden? Is the ground too soggy? Is the roof leaking? Are the windows up/shut? Do I have my rain boots? Where’s the umbrella? Is the basement dry? Did I bring the laundry in? Can I even hang the laundry out? Is the bridge out (again)? Is the firewood damp? Will I get soaked if I ride to work? Is the compost to wet? Can I paint the fence before it rains? Will the cement cure properly?
You get the idea. And now that so many bridges are out, we’re entering into our Spring rainy season, and there are a few seedlings in our garden, I’ve started thinking even more about water, and it’s many attributes.
Running water can be a calming sound, like the traditional sound of a babbling brook or a peaceful fountain, or it can create a rumble like nothing else when released in full force from a dam, crashing upon the shore during a storm, or when the creek runs high (if you’ve never heard this, it really does sound like a freight train!).
Some might equate this to my personality too. I seem pretty mellow, overall, but there’s something there – don’t get me angry. If you happen to be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back, you’re likely to hear the rumble of my anger. Yes, I admit this is a problem, and I am working on it, but like a river or creek returning to it’s regular level after a storm, it takes time. I need to remember to be like water, and turn the flood level reaction into a babbling brook.
Water can roll gently over a surface, finding just the right path and it can find it’s way through a seemingly watertight surface. Sometimes, we need to “go with the flow” to find our path or the answer to our problem. The answer might not seem so obvious, it might look like a small sliver of hope, be like water and find your way.
Given enough time and perseverance, water can erode rock, riverbanks, shorelines, and even move a mountain. Often life includes obstacles that seem uneven or unsurmountable, and it feels like we need to move a mountain. Thriving businesses are not usually built overnight. Relationships take time. Planning an event leads to obstacles previously unthought of. Family situations need addressed. Medical problems arise. Heck, even successful gardening requires a certain level of perseverance. Be like water, it takes time, but you can move your mountain.
Water cleanses, purifies, and restores life. We need to remember that our influence on those around us can be restorative, or it can be destructive. We should try and choose the former. All of us are subject to much negativity in our daily lives – the media, disapointed friends or family members, complaining clients or customers. You might be the only restorative force in someone’s life today. That’s so undervalued in today’s culture, but needed nonetheless. Be like water and cleanse or restore the souls of those around you.
Given the right conditions water is capable of rust and deterioration. Sure, these are not normally viewed as good things to have happen. But what if we consider this more as patina building or wabi-sabi (a Japanese ideal in which imperfections are accepted and even considered aesthetically appealing)? Then the wear and tear that water is capable of creating can become an outward and visible sign that should call upon our ideals of respect and reverence. Things age, we have to accept that, and if we can accept the physical signs of aging as beautiful, and graceful, think of what that could do to our collective well being! Be like water and accept that things will age, including you.
Water also has this great ability to change form – it can be a liquid, gas, or a solid. This is important. It can be destructive in all three forms; it can be beneficial in all three forms. But no matter which form it takes, at it’s most basic level it is always just H2O – water. No matter what you’re going through, the good and the bad, and no matter what form your personality currently takes, remember, at your core, to always be yourself, just like water.
So while I may be a lazy gardener who counts on the forecast to tell me when I need to water my garden, I need to remember just how powerful, meditative, destructive, and restorative water can be. And when life gets a bit bumpy, I need to remember to be like water.
The next time life throws a few lemons at you, find your water source and be like water.