This morning, it is nearly 40 degrees (F) outside, and I am sitting on the porch looking out the window and watching icicles melt slowly. I have been experiencing some anxiety about the day ahead, but watching the icicles drip calms me. Being so absorbed, I notice that I am not thinking about my appointments. Mindfulness of the melting icicles has cut through the anxiety.
And then I begin to focus on each drop of water that falls intermittently from the icicles that line my windows like exterior curtains. I’m drawn in and focus intently on each droplet. How are they speaking to me? What do they have to teach or awaken in me?
It’s the water cycle, of course – as so often is the case. Each drop of water connects us with everyone else – and all life – on our planet. We live in a gigantic terrarium in which each drop of water is recycled endlessly as it passes through liquid, vapor, and solid states depending on the conditions. Water is always on the move; it doesn’t stay the same.
I was especially transfixed by the point at which gravity freed each droplet from the icicle it had been part of. What was that like for the water droplet? Does it experience freedom or limitation when it is a clearly defined droplet? Or both? Does it fear landing and losing its individuality?
What is it like to exist without a human mind?
As I watched each droplet fall from the tip of the icicle to the snowbank below, I wondered if the drop seemed like a lifetime to the water droplet. What is time like for a water droplet?
Does it remember being a snowflake, a dewdrop, a cloud, a river, a tear?
After many lifetimes, does it get easier separating from and reuniting with something larger than itself? Does it prefer being an individual or losing its individuality as it merges with others to take on the collective identity of an icicle, a puddle, an ocean? After it has become a snowbank, a river, steam fog vapor, and becomes a raindrop once again, is it intact or made of molecules from other former snowflakes and dewdrops, as well?
And then I think of our relationship with water. Our bodies are composed largely of water. And water also exists outside of us; we can collect it from a spring, pour it into a glass, and drink it. We have rivers running through us, and we can swim in rivers, as well. Water runs through us, is part of us, and exists apart from us. Boundaries are blurred.
As usual, when I contemplate water, I realize we are not separate from the rest of life. Living things are never lost, only transformed. We just might not recognize the dewdrop when it becomes water vapor and returns as a snowflake or a feather in a frost painting that appears on our window one morning.
That thought makes me smile.
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