The night was young.
Cars crawled slowly through the blocks, reflecting the bright streetlamps and stoplights on bright technicolour paintjobs . It seemed a gaudy showroom
for sporty new Honda's, Audi's, Mercedes and even an occasional Ferrari. Here and there people carelessly jaywalked between them, crossing to
restaurants and bars, ignoring the honks and waving happily to the drivers. It was a typical early Saturday night on Queen Street West in Toronto.
Even the pavements were splashed with red, yellow, green and white light.
The air mixed with the heady scents of spices, exhaust and hot engines, while overhead, a nighthawk flashed momentarily into view as it called down to
the crowd three stories below.
Only I heard it, though. The crowd was oblivious in their relentless pursuit of pleasure and I thanked the hawk for the fleeting glimpse of reality.
Turning from the window and wending my way past the piles of books and magazines strewn on the coffee table, sagging couch and floor, I entered the
bathroom and, sticking my head under the tap, ran a fast stream of cold water over my head, shocking my senses and making me gasp for air. Shivering
as the water ran down my bare back, the sensation gave me a strange exhilarating pleasure.
Water. How little we understand it. Yet its importance to life is undeniable. How few of us really know the significance of this mysterious substance
beyond the immediate relief of quenched thirst?
Imagine a dark, deep lake. Can you see it in your mind? Are you standing on the shore looking out upon it from the safety of your natural habitat or
are you in a boat and just a little more at risk? Do you look upon the surface and wonder what lies below?
Imagine, instead, being submersed below that surface, holding your breath or with scuba gear good for a half hour. Do you scan the distant murk for
threatening shadows? Is the threatening unknown still a butterfly in your guts? Even just a little?
Close your eyes and see yourself from afar in that alien world. A small creature in the distance paddling arms and legs in a foreign medium. Does the
throbbing theme of Jaws perhaps come into your head just a little?
Da-doom. Da-doom. Da-doom
Fill a dark coloured, but wide bowl to the rim with water and place it on a table. Now darken the room more than a little and sit so that you may see
the reflection of your own face within it.
The water is still and your face is revealed in shadows. Look deep into your own eyes for a few minutes. Who is that person who stares back at you? Do
you really know that person? Honestly?
What secrets do you withhold from yourself. What are those memories which you've tucked into the closetted cobwebbed portions of your mind?
Stare into the dark shadows and reflect on your time, see how it has marked your eyes, your mouth and your brow upon the water. There is the book of a
life written there, if only you would dare study it.
You are walking a forest path and the world is ablaze with glorious sunshine on a cloudless day. Birds sing, the bright green leaves flutter and
rustle with a warm breeze as you venture forth on your life's journey. The path, so far, is easy and straight.
In the distance, on a slight rise, you notice a brilliant golden castle and you know that that
shall be your goal, a purpose for your life's
struggle. Your heart leaps at the thought of reaching it and you quicken your steps in joy.
The trees, the path and the achingly blue arc of the sky is forgotten in the renewed vigor of your steps. The world around you fades as you are
focussed on the distant, but so tempting edifice.
Quite suddenly, the path takes a radical change and before you lies a deep dark chasm. Downward spirals a rocky path on a dizzying cliff and, far
below, a turbulent river roars, etched in white rapids and ink-black swirling pools. On the far cliffside, you see the path climbing back upwards to
the welcoming greenery, so close, and yet so far away.
The castle and the water.
Is it any wonder, then, that we are blessed with it at birth?
Is it any wonder that we are immersed in it so that we may be reborn?
Does it not reveal to you your own weaknesses, fears and the challenges of an unknown future which lies before us all? Do we not stumble backwards on
time's rock-filled stream, painfully aware only of our unsure footing and the hard lessons of the past?
We must all face the little death of our presumptuous youth and come to know ourselves. Otherwise, we would always remain children; full of bravado,
self-pride and a dangerous over-confidence.
Take a long draught of cold clear water now and know the wisdom that lies within it.
edit on 22/12/11 by masqua because: Title edit for contest