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A Drop of Water

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      Michael Gray

        ‘Droplets’ – Image by JUAN FERNANDO YECKLE from Pixabay


        I have no memories of my own, because I have nowhere to store them, no heart or brain or library that could keep my experiences within reach. Yet by some miracle, I now remember that I’ve been a drop of water for millions of years. I even remember being broken up into constituent atoms and then, as soon as I was reassembled into a drop of water again, feeling once more like a jewel in the net that cradles me.

        Since I have no other witness than my own presence to vouchsafe these memories, I’ll just share some of them now. For the past few days, I’ve been flowing in the bloodstream of a man who calls himself Michael. His knowing is giving my memories a voice. He is no chemist or biologist, but he has ways of perceiving things that bring them into the open where they can catch the sunlight of understanding.

        What a trip this is. I am very familiar with cycling through planet-wide continuums of flowing water; but now I am passing signposts over and over in quick succession. This is a far cry from circuits that take weeks and months, in which I am drawn up from oceans, carried aloft in wind-born clouds, and wafted over fields and deserts, until craggy peaks pull me out of the sky; and I am once more falling as rain or snow onto the high Sierras or Andes or Karakorum. In that time of falling, I am frighteningly alone, until I am once more called back into community by the surface tension of my kind to join together and flow in a unified stream.

        But now I am cycling quickly past lungs, through chambers of the heart, past kidneys, and through fields full of hundreds of millions of cells–each one beckoning for me to enter its local world so that I can load up and carry away the residues created by their unceasing labors.

        There are many exits from this closed system and I confess that I am in no hurry to move back into the wider world through which I have cycled for so long, ever since the comet I lived in for billions of years crash landed on Planet Earth when it was still a burning cinder. Along with my cousins I was immediately turned from ice to steam. But, unlike many of the others, I was not swept back into the vast almost empty spaces where they may still be wandering in isolation from their kin for the billions of years that I have been here on this planet.

        This is the first time I can remember being inside a human being, where I am making use of my host’s knowledge—of this planet’s hydrology, biology, and its yearning to be part of something greater. This is allowing me to go more deeply into my own existence as a drop of water.

        For instance, this morning he read something that resonated with my own sense of destiny:

        What is required of us, for our survival, is an expanded sense of self-interest, one in which the needs of the whole—and the other beings within the whole—are seen as commensurate with our own. Only then can we begin to think and act together.
        …’World as Lover, World as Self,’ by Joanna Macy,  page 202

        I realize that I am using the apparatus that he calls by names such as consciousness, awareness, and knowledge; and that, as a drop of water, I do not have these abilities. Nor will they remain with me when I flow out into the wider world again. So, I feel a certain sadness, and a sense that I have been given a precious and momentary opportunity to speak for the consciousness of the whole world, through the voice of this individual being. I wish I could stay longer so that this collaboration between the local perspective of this man and my global perspective as a drop of water might deepen into a true joining of the local and the cosmic. But each time I pass the thirsty kidneys or the billowing lungs, I know that my time here is limited. When I am expelled into the world at large, I will lose the ability to think and feel and give voice to a sense of belonging within a living being that is conscious of its own created being. Then I will still experience the vast and flowing world, but not know what it feels like to choose my destiny.

        I wonder if I will retain any of these insights about my place in the wholeness of the cosmos. These insights seem to be equally mine and those of my host, and something else as well. There seems to be a third component present in this collaboration.

        I’m not sure if he is even aware of my presence or our intimate connection. He spends so much time in his own cycling thoughts and feelings that he rarely touches down in the immediacy in which I live and feel at home. I wish he would notice me as I orbit through places and times of which he only has the vaguest notion. I wish he would enter into my memories of falling through space onto a rocky mountain side, until I am gathered up in a flowing stream and once again am in the midst of the whole tumbling return back to the great sea. If he experienced himself in the midst of that tumult of the living cosmos, he might be able to recognize the third component that makes possible this collaboration between the local and everything that is.

        I don’t know how long I will be part of the collectivity of this human being, but I hope he will hear me while I am still inside him. I want to tell him that even a drop of water such as I am is part of a great wholeness that never rests; that nothing ever gets lost or stuck forever in any one state. As I feel myself entering his lungs, about to be exhaled out into the room in which he sits writing about me–after which I will no longer have access to these thoughts about time, consciousness, and shared being–that he will take the moment of his next breath to relax in the knowledge that everything belongs together with everything else.

        And I hope he will notice and then remember the insight that I think came more from my experience than from his–although I borrowed his mind and language to catch it in the light of day—that neither of us alone could have remembered my experience. My memories of falling through the sky, feeling alone and abandoned, isolated from anything greater than my being as a drop of water, is common to us both. My current host, although he knows those feeling of isolation and insignificance, doesn’t know what it is to cycle through the vast reaches of time and space; so, his feelings don’t recognize themselves as the natural gestures of the flow of life.

        It is the entire living fabric in which I travel that remembers for me. Where else could this knowing reside, but in the vast fields of time and space? It can’t be in a drop of water, whether I am slowly sliding down a window pane or deep in an ocean trench looking on as a sperm whale, compressed by immense pressure, dives past. It can’t be in the wandering, fitful thoughts of the host whose embodiment I am now about to leave. It must reside in the cosmos itself and in the living planet he calls Earth; it must reside in the world in which he remembers with sadness the clear streams and rivers that for millions of years tumbled and quietly flowed, wending their way back home to the deep blue sea.

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