Taking from the Well

So I’ve used this blog as a place for thoughts, essays, trips down a rutted, pitted and potholed Memory Lane, and I’ve discovered that these entries, as causal or deliberately thought-out as they’ve been, take something from me.

I can liken my imagination, and the energy I have to act from it,  to a well. The extended metaphor works as a way to understand the enticement, risks and rewards of creative behavior.

  1. Look down, and, most of the time, you see your reflection distantly in the water (or, more accurately, you see yourself looking). To look down a well is to be intrigued by places that may lead someplace else.
  2. A good question to ask is, Could the water be safe to drink? Even if there is no bucket by which you could fetch a drink, you are curious.
  3. If there is a bucket, you’ll want to take the drink anyway, even if you’re not thirsty. Novelty and, for some of us, action that brings us back to an earlier time, ritual or compulsion, are enticing.
  4. If you can manage the bucket (for some, this may take practice), you can have your drink. The taste may be odd, refreshing, awkward or so unusual that you drop the bucket. You may assume that everybody needs a drink, but, in truth, taking from the well is not for everybody. Until a few years ago, most people wanted it from a tap. Then bottled water became fashionable, both as a convenience you could carry, and as a branded product that, like a Starbucks coffee cup, said something about you, your affluence and your taste.
  5. You may look around and ask yourself if you’re allowed to do this. After all, the water comes from someplace, right? Somebody put this well here. Does it belong to anyone? In the words of parental concern, will there be a consequence?
  6. In the same way you avoided Question 2, you avoid Question 5 by taking another drink. This time you may get better at handling the bucket and bring up more water.
  7. You find you like the taste. You may even presume that, because well water is closer to a “natural” source, it may be good for you and, possibly good for everyone! From here, you wonder, could I make a living at this? You remember the water you drank as a kid. There might be people who have become rich ‘n’ famous providing water for the thirsty. A few have founded entire utility companies! Some went bankrupt and are now making a comeback. Their water regularly gets top ratings, though a few critics feel that their new output isn’t was good as their old. But who drinks “old” water these days?
  8. You drink some more and come back the next day and the water level is at the same height! You assume you’ve found an infinite resource. You buy a case of bottles, or, if you’re really dexterous, you procure a pump and drain the well dry.
  9. Alas, you discover that taking too much from the well has a consequence. The water at the closest to the bottom has gritty stuff in it–it’s not as good as the stuff at the top. Also, the time you spend pumping and filling bottles makes you thirsty. You wish you could just drink the stuff, instead of worrying about fill lines, distribution networks and what other people will think when they see you with all this water.
  10. You get a day when the well is dry. The very thing you depended on, has let you down. Worse than that, you’re thirsty! You look for something to take away your frustration. You waste a lot of time, effort and energy to generate a distraction. Indulging in distractions may become habitual–addictive! And, when the distraction fades, you’re still thirsty.
  11. The next day, the water is back! You drink deep (subtle reference to a couplet by Alexander Pope) and you are certain that this is the water for you. As soon as you reach your epiphany, other people demand your attention. “What are you doing hanging out by that well? We need you here!” “If you don’t help us out, we’ll get very mad!” “Who needs a well? If you do what we want, we’ll fix it so you can borrow money and buy bottled water!”
  12. You slowly come to realize that you and the well have a…relationship. The well “needs” you to take water, or its contents become stagnant. At the same time, the well gives you a special kind of water that, despite all the utility companies and water bottlers, is important to you. Even if other people don’t understand why you like this water, it IS part of your life. You DO depend on it. And, on days when nothing comes out right, it still tastes very, very good.

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