Friday, June 13, 2008

Watching the Water

Where water comes from is an important question. A couple of months ago, I went down into the lower part of my house, a finished basement, and smelled something not quite right. I went out into the unfinished part of the basement where all of our plumbing is, and there was water seeping in through the foundation of the house. A visit from the plumber determined that the water was, in fact, seeping in from a broken sewage line (hence the creepy smell), and a day later, that was all repaired.

A few weeks ago, I made the same trip downstairs. I smelled water. Not the creepy kind. Just the wet, watery kind. I went and looked at the pipes. Water seeping in again. A visit from the plumber, who dug up his work of a couple of months before found that it was NOT the sewage pipes (yea!) but was ground water seeping in from poorly designed yard flow (yuk!). A day later, that was remedied.

So what? So, today, I am seeing that observing where the water is flowing from goes a long way toward understanding our lives, our response to the world around us, and to taking actions that help and support life. Water has long been a metaphor for emotion, feelings, relationships and wisdom. Most of us walking around, unless we have worked very hard at walling ourselves off from all emotion, feeling, relationships and have decided there is no wisdom to be had, experience these things every day.

We have feelings and emotions. We are in relationships. We encounter wisdom, acknowledged or not, sought after or not, authentic or inauthentic. And frequently, speaking for myself (and suspecting that this may apply to others) there are times when I don't know what to do.

Hence the question: which way is the water flowing? What is its source? Is it coming from within me? Am I generating this? Does it belong to me? Or, am I being hit with this from outside of me? What is the pattern of the "water"? Is it a trickle? Is it a flood? Is it a river, or a pool? Is it helping me? Can I step out of it or into it at will? Does it sustain me or overwhelm me?

I am finding as I work with this question that what is best for me to do next becomes clearer simply by observing the flow of the "water". If the "water" is coming at me from another source, I can step aside and let it flow past, or head for cover if it's a deluge! If the flow of "water" is coming from within me, then I can observe further. What is it's source in me? How long has it been there? Even though it is flowing from within me, is it ultimately mine?

An example of this last type: When I sense someone's disapproval, the "water" begins to churn in my chest and stomach. When I observe that, it's churning from within me. When I observe that further, I begin to "see" old memories of childhood dynamics where my "task" was to please the adults in my world. At that point, I realize that these "waters" are not mine. They are the feelings and emotions of the adults in my childhood world that were flooded onto and into the way I learned to be in the world. When I see that, I can let the flood go. These waters don't belong to me.

Sometimes, such old floodwaters that don't belong to us don't flow away so quickly. I find that each time I experience them, and acknowledge that they do not belong to me, more of the dam cracks, that dam that has been holding those waters in, and more of the water seeps, then flows out. It's a process.

Like so many other things, dealing with the water in our lives is a process.

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