You might read this title and think of the old adage, “A watched pot never boils.”
But that’s not my topic, though it is turning out to be true during this couple of weeks.
You see, I’m having to boil water for drinking and cooking because of E. coli in some of our area’s water source. About 5,900 homes around here are affected. One of those is mine.
The prediction is that there will be no remedy for a couple of weeks.
My first reaction to this news was frustration.
What do you mean I can’t use the water coming out of my faucet for drinking or cooking?! How inconvenient! What a hassle!!
But then I realized what a first-world reaction this was.
In many places of scarce water people have to walk a long distance to get it. And then they have to carry it home.
Water is not light. And if you need a lot of water, it is heavy. Very heavy. I had a heck of a time getting a 36-pack of bottled water into and out of my car – and I didn’t even try to carry the whole load up my stairs to the kitchen. I’ll take a few bottles at a time.
But in some places, people have to walk not only to get their water, they have to carry it back. How much water can one person carry? Not enough, for sure, because it’s heavy.
And in places in which water is scarce, people have to boil it after carrying it a long way. And boiling probably means over a fire, not on a stovetop.
When I realized the challenge too many people have with daily water, I quickly got over my frustration.
What, you may ask, does all of this have to do with mindfulness, though?
Well, it’s the part that has to do with everyday expectations, the things I too often take for granted and do on autopilot . . . mindlessly.
I don’t often enough think of how fortunate a life I live.
How easy I have things.
Things like brushing my teeth.
I’m reminded now, though. No longer can I mindlessly put toothpaste on my toothbrush and dip it under a stream of water flowing from the faucet. Now I have to use water which I pour out of a bottle.
No longer can I mindlessly rise off my toothbrush with water from the faucet. Now I have to use water from a bottle.
No more mindlessly rising off vegetables or fruits under the flow of the faucet.
No more mindlessly running some water for coffee.
No more mindlessly getting water from the faucet for the cats.
You get the idea.
I am having to be more present. I am forced to be more present. I am forced to be more aware of what I have.
I spend much less time with my mind on autopilot – and much more time paying attention to what I’m doing.
I’m trying to look at this inconvenience as a kind of backward blessing.
Not that I won’t be glad when clean, E. coli-free water flows from my faucets!
But I appreciate the opportunity to be grateful for water at my fingertips. To pay attention to it. To appreciate it.
Even when I have to boil it. And wait. On the boiling and the cooling.
I appreciate it because it’s not a mile away. It’s right here at my fingertips. And my stove is easy to use. Just turn the knob and voila, heat and (eventually, if I don’t watch it) boiled water!
Inconvenience becomes a gift – a backward one, yes.
But appreciation is a gift.
And so is clean water.