Water – falls

Yesterday, we Hearty Hikers went up to Umegashima for a quick trek up to the Great Abe Waterfall to . . . well, to see the water fall.

We walked cedar shade, looked up at the canopy light, the sparkling jade. (“Cedar shade” and “sparkling jade” are Shizuoka Duo’s words not mine.)

Our eyes feasted on color.

One of the Hearty Hikers hadn’t been with us for a while—and seemed a bit concerned about getting lost in the deep, deep wilderness, so we took her on a route that enabled her to . . .

. . . climb the Eifel Tower. You know, just to calm her nerves a bit.

But mainly we walked the water, enjoying the world’s most perfectly-tuned air-conditioning system.

And I thought about the water.

A lot.

I tried to think of something profound to say about the water . . . and finally remembered a dream I’d had once.

I had dreamed I was applying for a position as an assistant professor in philosophy—a subject I’d never studied. All of a sudden, a member of the interviewing committee was asking me this: if there’s one thing, one simple-to-grasp thing, that you think all philosopher students should come to comprehend before completing their undergraduate degrees, what would it be?

Yes, a prickly situation. I was shaking. I was sweating. I tried to remember a time, any time, that I’d felt philosophical.  And I remembered, being a boy of five or six, and standing before a little waterfall, a very little waterfall in a creek near our house, and thinking . . . “Water . . . falls.”

So that’s what I said. At my dream interview.

“Water falls.”

And in my dream, I got the job.

Ah, the mystery of job interviews!

But, indeed, water does fall. A drop or two might bead up on a level surface (surface tension?), but you can’t make a big mound of water—it falls.

Falling, for water, is an effortless action.

You can apply force to water, squirt it out of a hose or a water pistol, but if you leave it to itself, it falls. You can dam it up, stop it for a while, but the instant you pull the dam away, it falls. And here’s the amazing thing, you can wait a day or a thousand days to pull the dam away, and the water will react just the same. The very moment the dam is gone, it falls.  Years of imprisonment affect its will not one iota, affects its temperament not one iota.

It has looked within. It knows what it is.

You might compare that to your feeling when lunchtime is over and someone says, “All right, everyone, back to work.”     To fall, or to flow (if you like) is water’s inner nature. Prevent it from doing that (put it in a concrete pool, for example) and it does nothing. Just waits. It’ll wait for all eternity if necessary. Because all it wants to do is fall. It’s all, really, that it can do. Don’t get mad at it because it can’t program a computer.

I’d say more, but would surely expose that I still haven’t studied philosophy!

On the way back home, we of course stopped at our favorite onsen.

Lots of water there, too.


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