In reading the two contributor posts I’m reminded of Robin Kimmerer’s question: “How can we reciprocate the gifts of the Earth?” Water is a source of life and a precious resource, certainly, but we rarely consider how or if we should contribute to sustaining water sources. We’re takers, ingrates—though of course most of us come by that attitude honestly or innocently. We are conditioned to take water for granted, and possibly even to waste it. “Go wash your hands again.” (Not, “Did you say thank you water?”)
I’m also reminded of the subtitle of the Introduction to Timothy Morton’s Realist Magic (2013): “Objects in Mirror are Closer than They Appear.” Elsewhere I wrote the following:
In another time and place flowing water was considered sacred. In this time and another place (not Chicago) clean water is still or once again highly valued. The State of California declared a State of Emergency earlier this year because of drought conditions. So water is closer and farther than it appears in the mirror. It is so necessary to our existence as to be virtually identical with our being . . . but it cannot really be conjured by plumbing fixtures. Morton also reminds us that there is no “different dimension called Away” in the context of air pollution and waste (Hyperobjects, “Viscocity” chapter, Kindle location 609). Even if we could export waste beyond the biosphere, the process would further pollute our environs. Similarly, there is no magic source or spring of fresh water outside of the hydrological cycle.
Upon reflection, most of us can recognize the sanctity of water in our religious traditions, or those of our ancestors, but feel far from cultures that carry water. Water was once represented in language, with M and N evolving from wavy glyphs for water. We no longer carry water, in any meaningful way, and perhaps that is one reason we fail to cherish it. How can we sanctify our relationship with water in a secular, high-tech world? What sorts of rituals would help us remember to give back? And what sort of culture would grow from a new relationship with water? Perhaps we could revive water as a metaphor or meme, or tell stories about water ~ or just circulate them.