2017-2018 Live Deliberately Essay Contest
S. Jones, 16
Winner, 14-16 Age Group
“We Were in it Together”
Fill 1 large pot of water. Heat until the water nears the cusp of boiling. Transfer water to a smaller pot. Add room temperature water to the smaller pot to achieve desired temperature. Move the smaller pot to the corner of the bathtub. This is a recipe for what my family has dubbed ‘‘the pot bath’’. For months my home has had no running water. The “why” is beyond the limits of this essay, but my growth from this experience will fit nicely in this frame. Jones vs. My Home Losing Water is a landmark case, exemplifying how I can deconstruct struggle and use its lessons to build triumph. The shock and fear that resulted from our water being snatched up into inexistence initially tunneled my thoughts towards negativity. However, by shifting my perspective through introspection, I cultivated a new strength within.
My capacity for resilience had long been reinforced by the trials and tribulations of lifelong poverty. Yet with the water shut-off, the overwhelming possibility of more things going awry drowned my typical optimism drip by drip. Suddenly, I was prone to have negative thoughts that were eager to strangle me with anxiety. This anxiety then sailed past the matter of the water. My neat handling of life was shattered. The feeling of being pushed beyond the fringes of society, as I knew it, drained self-confidence. While my situation influenced these thoughts, one simple yet towering fact stood; regardless of external factors, my thoughts originated from my mind. Thus, only I could answer for the negativity of these thoughts. Given the depth of my despondency, I was occupying the role of my worst enemy. Seeking mediation with myself, I fastened my heavy-duty thinking cap and went to work, snipping away the pointlessly consuming worries and ruminations in my mind.
Gathering water is burdensome. True. Others go through far greater trouble to collect water: walking miles as opposed to driving miles. Also true. I was suffering. True. My mother must feel this pain on a considerably greater level of severity as she is not able to shelter her children from the bitter hardship while she also shares in it. Even truer. However, none of these truths were mine alone. I poked my head up through my personal fable and took a good look around, recalling a simple fact. Millions of people around the world bear the weight of living without readily available clean water. Unfortunately, to varying degrees, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters are universally acquainted with this particular struggle. We were in it together. I felt a new sense of love and reverence for my fellow citizens of Earth. Thus, my awareness of my connection with the world has never been so tangible.
The absence of water opened a cascading tap of insight. The thoughts born of this experience dissolved a wall that had divided me from people once marked with a distinct otherness. Those captured in images and words like the faraway weathered women in colorful wraps balancing water jugs on their heads now seemed merely within an arm’s length. Not only was my sense of control regained through introspection, but my sense of self was enlightened by the flowering of greater empathy. In light of this growth, I am, in a way, thankful for the shut-off. Although I had to journey a “narrow and crooked” path, in the end, I gained more than I lost.
The day I turned that faucet and the water ran dry catalyzed a reaction within me. To avoid being consumed by struggle I had to observe the situation from the inside out. In I went, only to meet myself at the other side with a better grasp of who I will become: someone who will give more to others. Failing to relieve some of the pain in this world would be living in vain. Through this purposeful giving and mindful living, I will grow eternally, thriving on a deeper understanding of myself and others.