Adding More Water As a Metaphor For Life


  I had an experience with my new fountain recently that made me think about adding more water as a good metaphor for life.

I got this new baby a few weeks ago to add some ambiance to my office and my life. I love the soothing sound of water running and I have to admit I fell in love with this thing the minute I saw it. I got it to the office, figured out the setup and plugged it in. I immediately noticed the submerged motor was a bit louder than I'd expected so I added water as needed but the sound was still pretty loud. I tried a few more combinations and finally decided it was good enough. Let it be.

But then I went back and looked at it more closely. And then I closed my eyes and listened carefully. Have you ever tried using all your senses, as you are able, to solve a problem? It's amazing what stands out.

When I listened carefully, I heard the motor fill up and reengage and then I heard it sputter and choke. It occurred to me that maybe there wasn't enough water. I added a bit more slowly at first and then I poured probably four times what was in lower bowl.

Guess what? No more noise from the motor. All you could hear is the trickling water. Turns out, adding more water was the solution.

I think adding more water is a good metaphor for life.

A lot of people struggle with drinking enough water. It's something I hear time and time again as a health coach.

During the winter or in cold climates, it's especially a challenge because of the weather. In hot weather, we're more present to dehydration or we associate water with refreshment and "cooling off". When we are cold and freezing, we don't necessarily associate cold glasses of water with refreshment. Ironically, it's during the winter where we may need water even more because we're eating denser, rich foods and probably more sugar, salt and fat than we consume during the summer. The air is also more dry and we are inside in environments running heat all day. Dehydration contributes to a myriad of symptoms like fatigue or chronic pain and stiffness which we then cover up with foods like coffee or sugar or lifestyle habits that don't serve us. Netflix binge, anyone?

Water represents fluidity and movement. We often attach meaning based on whatever is happening in our lives. I've been watching (and re-watching) this recorded seminar with Pema Chödrön lately where she speaks of water. She talks about the river and how some people cling to the edge and get tossed about and the people who relax and let go and float down the middle of the river. Naturally, things like currents and rocks and stuff appear in the middle so it's not like floating down a lazy river in an inner tube like I did when I was a kid. It's still scary and hard sometimes.

But it's less scary and hard to go with the flow of things as they are, she explains, than to cling to one fixed point on the river, clutching for permanence and security. While it provides some sense of comfort, the water keeps rushing past and we have to keep clinging to hold our place. Clinging takes a lot of effort.

Flowing is scary but perhaps less so than clinging, with the right mindset and with enough practice.


So, consider if you're listening to your body the way I listened to that fountain to troubleshoot how to fix it. Are you paying close attention to what you actually need or have you made a decision that what you're doing is good enough?

And notice if you're clinging to the riverbed in your life, attached to outcomes and certainty, or are you flowing with things as they truly are?