Recently I met the Water Elder. It started out like any other day— a little better perhaps because I didn’t have to go to work, I had the day off. I puttered about the house, skipping around my errand list, checking off tasks as I went. Then I went for a walk with two good friends and we discussed everything from the 4th dimension to the mice that run rivers Down Under. (For some reason, every time someone mentions The Avengers I think of The Rescuers and picture a mouse in hat and coat standing on the front of the raft pointing out the upcoming rapids.)
Anyway, I was feeling good and I had one more to-do on the day’s list before I could put on my comfy pants and eat cookies for dinner. I had agreed to meet with the Water Elder at 5:30. I didn’t know what he wanted to talk about, but I knew whatever it was it would be worth my while. We went to Staircase Park and walked along the river for a bit, stopping to talk about water, life, societal norms and standing in your truth.
We are water, he said. Everyone begins in water. Water has strength and yet, is humble.
And always gets what it wants, I said with a smile.
Yes, he said. No matter how long it takes.
In this country it’s easy to forget that all the water in the world is connected. We turn on the faucet and clean water comes out until we turn it off. Then we watch the “dirty” water circle down the drain, gone and away. But in actuality, every drop is connected through an awesome evaporation/filtration system designed by God or mice, depending on who you ask.*
The Water Elder shared a lesson with me that he learned 20some years ago; there are three options in our society. In day to day life you can choose to be a bully or a victim. And it is a daily choice. Or, if you know who you are, and what you stand up in the light of day for, then you can choose to play. You will still have to walk the ‘razor’s edge’ that is the struggle to earn a living, i.e., find a way to pay for necessities, but if you can find what you’re really here for, and undo your training, then you can spend your life as you wish. All you have to do is quit the race.
We are misled to compete constantly in this culture: at work, at play, at home. And there will always be someone with more: more recognition, more toys, more cookies for dinner. Competition is the crux of consumerism, and without it we find ourselves looking for ways to spend time with our neighbor instead of envying her new car, boat, mule…
“When you have more than you need, build a longer table not a higher fence.” -Confucius
I’d rather be authentic to myself, and wish others well in their endeavors. What do I care if they want to wear pink with orange? A good place to start this practice is in elementary school. Instead of teaching them how to sit still and stifle their creativity for eight hours a day, we should teach our kids conflict resolution, yoga (we’ll call it ‘breathing exercise’ for the provincials) and art. Lots and lots of art. Art helps you express yourself and once you know who you are, and you own your actions –good and bad– then it’s easier to stay true to yourself. Integrity doesn’t mean always being right, it means having the follow-through to right our wrongs.
Like fracking. We all knew Oil & Gas was gonna go all out until the wheels came off. But what I didn’t see coming was that we may actually poison ourselves in the process. Like a junkie with the offending needle still in his arm, we are allowing the fracking industry to contaminate our only water source with their chemical concoction. (And just like a junky, we’re not even asking what’s in it.) Eventually, their chemical cocktail will find its way into the ice in our cocktails, and then God (or mice) help us.
*Whenever people refer to ‘the good book’ I assume they mean Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.