January 2, 2015

Weight of Water

We’ve all seen those bars that fit across our backs that bend us over at the neck: those simple wooden rods with notches at either end for carrying buckets of water. We need the water in order to have our life, but in the long run, it always turns out to be too heavy for any one person to carry, no matter how strong he or she imagines himself or herself to be. Life is heavy on your shoulders and hard on your back, and hell on your hands, and youth can only take you so far.

Carrying the water of life, even for a short distance, is a pain.

But the thing is, those bars are not made for two people. Each of those bars has its one and only fulcrum -- that place where it balances out -- and it’s in the middle of the rod, not at either end. It would be far too simplistic to suggest that we can just all shoulder the load together. Wouldn't it? And so where does that leave us?

It means I can’t carry your load and mine all at the same time, or I will surely tip over or buckle under. That's not good for me. Neither can I offload my buckets onto you and skate free -- that’s not fair.

It may just mean that after I have worn out all my strength and you have worn out all your strength and neither of us has the salt to go on like before, we sit in the road together for a while and laugh about it. Then we figure out how much water we actually need, and we put it in one big jar we carry on our heads, and you take a turn and then I take a turn, and after a long time we reach our destination with water enough to get by on. And if we get to where we're going and someone's free who still has the gift of his youth, we can send him back down the road -- him and one of his friends, saying to them, Go to this point and look for these things and bring them back. And when they do, we can share them with them as well.

Water's heavy. One way or another, we have to figure something out. Let's have no more Lone Rangers.

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