“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink…”
I first read Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner when I was in high school. Alongside with Poe’s Annabel Lee, Ulalume, and Raven, this was one of those first verse-epics that made me love narrative poetry.
The ancient mariner himself was an alienated traveler as most of us are on earth. As blundering roamers on our planet, we too slip and slide into unwanted, dangerous predicaments. No wonder! When one becomes alien to the inner workings of any thing or place, one is destined to make mistakes in or out of water.
Water is one of the most important natural resources, vital for any living thing. All kinds of theories on water conservation, from water harvesting to desalination to waste water management, has been put on the table. Specifically, drinking water has encouraged the creative urges of the public health professionals as well as the sales pitches of the fly-by-night, money-hungry, and wily sales people.
Commercial concerns aside, betraying nature has its consequences as the ancient mariner did by shooting the albatross. Still, the nature was kind and forgiving since it forgave the ancient mariner when he showed remorse, and I am sure nature will also forgive our past mistakes and keep providing for us if we change our messy ways.
If we don’t know how to use our resources, our water supply, or our oceans, whose fault is this?
Water connects us to life, as do our relationships and our bond to humankind. With nearly six billion people on earth, at one time or another, most of us have felt not just alone but also lonely.
When we watch the way our own body systems and our psyche works, we understand the value of water. Without water there is no cleansing; without tears and true remorse, forgiveness or transformation is hard to obtain.
In technical sense, there is such a process called desalination that takes the salt out of sea water and makes it usable and drinkable. If so, why can’t we take the salt out of relating to one another and never feel the thirst?
As there has to be a catalyst to take the salt out of the sea water, and I believe there are catalysts to take the salt out of the ocean of people in regard to our relationships with them. One of these catalysts starts with will for good, not just to do good, but also to see, hear, say, think, and intend good. These are very difficult things to do and they may take more than a lifetime to perfect, since we first have to unlearn age-old suspicions and the way we look at each other.
Another catalyst has to be love and acceptance. For this, we have to get rid of our fear of getting hurt. This too is very difficult because self-protection is a natural instinct.
Yet, man becomes human only when he can corral natural instincts and tame them to feel his own positive presence on earth. When we identify ourselves with our fears, we influence and restrict our emotional make-up into loneliness.
How we look at ourselves and how we identify ourselves within an ocean of people, with no fear, with acceptance of others, with good intentions will help us transcend our limitations and will facilitate our unity with others. Then, we won’t need to say: “water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”