Reflections on Water

Little Patuxent River

The Little Patuxent River. Photo: USGS

I met a few weeks ago with my friend, massage therapist and poet Lisa Faraone. We welcomed 2011 with an exchange of gifts and a cup of tea.

What serendipity that Lisa put The Miracle of Water by Masaru Emoto into my hands. I flipped through Emoto’s book to check out the photographs of water crystals Lisa promised would blow me away.

Emoto studies the effect of words and ideas on water. He shows or speaks a word–“harmony,” “happiness,” “anger,” “dislike”–to water, then freezes it and captures the crystals on film. The results are stunning. The “happiness” crystal resembles a smiling crab, while the “dislike” crystal is malformed in a kind of grimace.

Water makes up about 70 percent of the human body. Imagine how our physical selves, then, are reacting to the words we speak and the words we hear.

This week marks the launch of the Little Patuxent Review’s Water issue. It also marks our farewell to Editor Michael R. Clark. In his introduction to the issue, Michael writes that water is “the element of dissolution, of change, of flow, and of eternal return.”

The pieces in this issue speak to the deep human connection with water that I have been learning about in Emoto’s book.

Water binds us to places. When we make a change by going somewhere new, we notice the water’s presence, its color, how it feels against our skin. We gather by the water, returning to favorite pools and rivers with friends and lovers. Water is embedded in family stories, as we see in Afaa Michael Weaver’s LPR piece, “The Other Side of Things.”

Water comforts, washes away, but it is also capable of drowning us. The authors we feature point out that water both creates real sinkholes and signifies emotional ones–the times when we feel the bottom has given way and we are fighting for breath.

In Tim Singleton’s profile of abstract artist Christopher Quirk, Quirk says what he seeks in his work is the point where, “The fluid leaves no human mark.” He could be describing the elusiveness of water. We try to capture it in words and images, never quite able to hold it.

I’ve been thinking about the phrase often used when we’ve moved on from a person or situation: “That’s water under the bridge.” I suppose this means an experience has flowed away.

However, when I thought about the phrase more deeply, the accepted meaning is too limiting. The water may have moved on in one sense, but there will always be water under that bridge. Water gives the bridge purpose. The bridge allows us to have perspective on the water’s flow. As the LPR continues to develop, I know that Michael will keep an eye on where the river of words takes us.

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