Filling Up the Tank
September 5, 2005
This is one of those early September mornings with fog close to the ground yet clear skies and sun above so all appears shrouded in golden mist. It'll only be a matter of minutes until the moist air dries and the mist evaporates but I can marvel in the surrounding gilded fog bath in the meantime.
Every morning and every evening I have water barrel filling duty as one of my farm chores. As this is a portable barrel, which goes into whichever field the horses go, we simply fill it using a hose that stretches from the barn, rather than investing in automatic watering systems. It doesn't sound very efficient but standing with a hose filling a 40 gallon barrel 10 minutes twice a day has its upsides. It is a good time to reflect on the day that is dawning and the day that is wrapping up. It is a good time to scan the fields and trees, survey the fences, and deeply suck in fresh air. In short, it's a time to fill up my own tank when I'm feeling "dry". Some weeks bring more to contemplate than others.
This past week has left hundreds of thousands of Americans homeless, bruised and battered physically and emotionally, and thousands dead and dying in the Gulf Coast region after a hurricane proved it is far mightier than any disaster planning table top exercise or exhaustive textbook scenario. In the horrific irony of post-storm flooding, people died of dehydration surrounded by water. Their homes and neighborhoods overflowed while they themselves were parched. It is an agony that is impossible for the rest of us to fathom, comfortable as we are where we are. By simply turning on a faucet, I watch gallons and gallons of clean fresh water pour out of my barn hose for my horses to drink, and I think about how many people this water barrel could have saved from certain death last week. If only I could have magically transported my deep well, my hose, and my barrel where it was needed, I would have filled it over and over as they quenched their thirst. So many "if onlys" in a week such as this.
It was also a week where a split second decision that I made while moving horses on my farm, in an effort to save time, resulted in significant injuries to two of my horses. Saving a moment has resulted in untold future hours of wrapping wounds, a pile in vet bills, and my own guilty shame in making a poor decision in haste. So now I force myself to stand as I fill up the water barrel and realize that a few saved minutes, a misplaced sense of control over things and just plain lack of common sense is never worth the cost to be paid. It is fool's gold, as transient and blinding as the fog this morning and just as ephemeral.
The "what if's", "if onlys", and "shouldas" in our lives can be dehydrating all on their own, causing more long term suffering and untold misery in our flawed lives. So we dive into the tank that is filling up in front of us and drink deeply, bathed, saturated, and washed clean in "what is" and "what will be", not "what should have been". The tank will always be full, the invitation is genuine and unlike rising gas prices, it is given freely.