This blog has moved to my new art/creativity site (Mouse House BLOG). The new blog is also about getting you connected with nature for creative expression, along with my art, workshops, and my personal journey.

Please feel free to explore past posts here, some of which will re-appear for encore showings in Mouse House. Let nature be your muse...

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Moved By Water / World Water Day

As long as species have inhabitated this beautiful planet, water has given life. We are quite aware that simply put, without clean water, we would not survive. The water cycle is an ancient, continuous cycle that has kept the planet alive since the beginning of earth's time. Since man's appearance, water has blessed us with life, natural forces, and inspiration. Today is World Water Day, learn more here.

In honor of World Water Day I thought it was appropriate to revisit an older article about water in our lives.

Moved By Water

Living in a desert reminds me all too often of the precious resource water is in maintaining the delicate balance of life in a seemingly harsh environment. How often can we relate to this in our own lives? How much do we rely on our emotional resources to maintain a delicate balance during difficult times? Like every individual, water can be very powerful, it can give life, cleanse, reshape the landscape, even carve rock. It goes with the flow, so to speak, yet carves an unmistakable path...

One of my favorite pastimes is exploring the deep canyon washes leading up the many alluvial fans that form our valley edges. These canyon washes have been shaped and reshaped by 100-year floods throughout the geologic past.

A particular wash became a source of comfort for me during a very difficult time in my life, over a decade ago. I frequented this canyon wash, tempting the elements on some days by hiking deeper into the canyon with the smell of rain in the air. A narrow wash is not the place to be when it's raining somewhere in the desert-flash floods fed by cloudbursts miles away can swiftly fill these natural outlets with a powerful surge of rushing water, rocks, boulders, and trees. I guess this was my version of rebellion against the turbulence in my life at that time. But it was the scars of past floods that drew me to this particular canyon in the first place. I cried so much during that time in my life, I felt I could relate to the historical floods that were repeatedly unleashed against this beautiful canyon.

The walls were carved and scarred from these ancient, watery flows, boulders were strewn about and out of place, pushed up against each other, and blocked narrow gaps along the wash. Palms were stripped of their native skirts or missing up to half of their trunks as they held their ground against an unstoppable granite boulder slowly moved along by a thin cushion of water during a past deluge. I felt I had experienced every one of these events personally.

As my explorations became more frequent, I noticed my favorite wash was becoming crowded and overgrown with not-so-native plant life, debris from recurrent wind storms, and rocks brought down from decades of seasonal smatterings of rainfall. Non-native species where beginning to choke out native plants, stealing precious water hidden below the surface. I was annoyed when my second attempt around some boulders was blocked by more plants and plant debris. Similarly, I was getting to a point in my life where I was wondering how much longer I was going to allow others to block my progress and steal away with my happiness, my confidence, my strength and energy-my precious resources! My core was crowded with pain, negativity, anger, fear, and feelings of failure. I needed a mind cleansing (or maybe just a machete, for the plants).

Weeks later, days of rain graced the desert landscape. I remember going outside and doing yard work as an excuse just to be out in the rain. After about 20 minutes, I was soaked and I felt the long-stoked fire of anger and self-pity within me quietly hiss and pop until the rain had washed it away. Then I cried. I felt better than I had in a long time.

I visited my beautiful canyon retreat as soon as the clouds broke. But this time it was different. It smelled good--that unmistakable scent of wet soil, creosote, and steamy rocks.  Clean earth smell. The ground was still damp, both firm and spongy. There were new etchings in the soil, beautiful little riverlets everywhere creating fractal-like patterns along the wash, each watery branch, branching yet again. The canyon walls were clean and rich with desert colors of earthy minerals deepened by moisture. Instead of a scarred wall, I saw a beautifully carved, smoothly sculptured surface shaped by water. The boulders hadn't moved, but instead remained gathered around each other in timeless support wherever they touched- removed from their original source, but not alone. I secretly named each one in honor of my family and close friends who blessed me with their unwavering support throughout my ordeal.

Many plants had been removed, their bent and soggy stems clung to the strong and sturdy bases of the palms, whose enormous fronds were now incredibly green and shiny, their trunks a striking contrast of a deep brown, slightly spongy to the touch. Those soggy stems would soon dry out and blow away I thought. I noticed too, that it wasn't so crowded anymore-I had walked right around, and easily climbed up and over the family of boulders. So, the rain had also cleansed my favorite little canyon-or was it just me? Just days before, water flowed through there, taking plants with it, creating new contours along the way, cleaning away years of dirt. Debris was washed away, life became more vibrant, obstacles turned into stepping stones, everything was clean, fresh and ready for a new beginning.

The parallels struck me as I sat on top of one of the boulders and breathed in deep enough to taste the water that still lingered in the air. I realized how far I'd come and how much was still ahead, but I felt renewed by nature herself. It was incredibly empowering for me to reflect upon the connection between myself, a little rain, and my canyon refuge. I thought about the power of water that brought me to that moment. My tears, my inner storm, the desert rain, the flooding, the mud on my boots, the dampness on the rock-it all blended together to reshape my experience, my outlook.

As I sat upon my perch, the surrounding boulders wrapped a cool blanket of humidity around me and I reflected further. Water is a part of us, it is within us, a vital part of every living thing. It helps us express our own nature...we cry, sweat, breathe water in and out-each action responding to an emotional or physiological signal reflecting everything from tranquility to turbulence in our own bodies, and in our lives. How unstoppable could we be if we were to move in some ways like water-persistent, fluid, interchangeable-whether moving beyond a difficult transition in our lives, or fulfilling our deepest dreams?

This ever-flowing, ancient cycle of water penetrates our cells and gifts us its mighty power, which we must define for ourselves. How will water move us, what will it carve away...how will it sculpt our next moment?

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