Being at the beach, I could not help but notice the water. Everyone, I think is drawn to its liquid qualities, the mystery of the depths, the way light dances with darkness and shadow in the waves like good and evil in people’s souls. Water can be clear and yet reflect the world around it; you can get lost in it, and yet it fills you. Too much water and you can die – not enough, and you die again. We are somewhere around ninety-eight percent water, from it our primordial ancestors laboriously pulled themselves onto land. Like them, we were surrounded by it before we were born. Water takes the form of whatever surrounds it; it always seeks the easiest route to escape. Water is laid back and it can make you weightless, and yet in the depths it can crush you. Like a society, a storm can whip it to furiously destruction, and like time, nothing can resist its irresistible force.
Water is symbolic in so many ways. Life as we know it cannot exist without it, and yet it can be blamed for billions of deaths over time. Like a life, it can be affected by what it has gone through, carrying either toxins or nutrients for the length of its course. Bitter water, sour water; sweet water, bad water. Birthed by rain, it can be as pure as a baby’s breath; birthed underground, it can have traces of stone. “Hard water”, “soft water” – we’ve all heard those words. And people can be hard or soft, too. Water builds beaches and islands – but it can destroy them, too. I wonder: can therapy be considered a form of “water treatment” for the mind and soul? And is reflecting on your life like looking into a stream – and seeing your own self standing there? Like the echoes of dripping faucet, water echoes life in so many ways.
Water can reflect the world around you – or your own face. It can be transparent, or it can be clouded. Like many people, it often takes the course of least resistance; yet put it under pressure and it can perform miraculous tasks. Like people, it takes the form of the environment it is put in – and yet like a stone thrown in a pond, there can be random ripples of chance which affect the whole. Think of 9/11.
Clear water, I’ve learned, is dead water. Green or black water is rich in life. Rich water helps other things grow. Transparent water, while perhaps beautiful, is barren, and nourishes nothing. I’ve met people like that – shallow and transparent. They nourish nothing except themselves. And yet there are others, rich and complex with hidden depths – but like a salt marsh draws life to it, they draw others to them and nourish their souls.
Like life, water undergoes cycles, has a life of its own. Birthed in the clouds, it falls as a crowd of drops from the sky, the crowds grouped together by rainstorms. Could drops in a rainstorm be regarded as a family, birthed together from the same cloud? They are all so much the same. Then striking earth they meld with others, like people in a town – molded and formed into rivulets and streams which in the end merge with rivers, following courses which are hard to change, until finally they meet the great mother of life: the endless ocean. Dying there, the droplets evaporate and are invisibly carried into the sky to accumulate and join again. Is steam the soul of water? Isn’t the rain like members of society? Born pure, then falling to the ground; affected by what they go through, joining together into a stream, a force? I don’t know; I just sense a symbology there. I’m sure the poets among you can see it, too.
Never mind; it does not matter. Like I tell kids who ask “How deep is the water?”- it doesn’t matter how deep the water is, as long as you stay on top. And that, too, is like life.