The Cataract of Lodore

The trip out of the city and into the mountains was pleasant. We passed dromedaries, a peasant carrying pots, and the city at large, whilst speeding into the hills. Our guide was excited to lead us on a hike to the waterfall. He promised that it would be worth the 2 hour hike and asked us to trust him.

Off we went with him chattering about the Berber tribes, their customs and traditions. We passed small shops selling handcrafted wares and moved swiftly towards the much anticipated waterfall.

Two hours and a few minutes later, we arrived. Our hands and legs were sore and shaking from all the climbing, and we could not wait to dip into the cool water. Hands shaking I scooped a handful of water to splash on my face, but the water just fell through the cracks between my fingers. I tried and tried to just get a handful of water, yet it seemed so elusive.

Water – such a mesmerizing substance. It nourishes everything and is a life force, yet it cannot be contained. No one can control it, it has a mind of its own. It can be life giving and gentle, or furious and sharp. It can soothe a crying baby or cut through the hardest of rocks.

Back when we still had a home phone, we used to get quite a few telemarketing calls. I remember this incident so vividly. It was 8 pm and we had just started having dinner. Not answering the phone was never an option at our home, when it rang I answered it. The voice on the other side asked me if I would like to subscribe to the local newspaper for 99 cents a month for the first month and 4.99$ after? I lost it. Fully and completely I lost it. I told the person in my sternest voice that ‘no, I was not interested in subscribing and that he should never call anyone at 8 pm when people are having dinner!”

After giving my rudest speech to date, I was starting to put the receiver down. The calm and gentle voice on the other side said “Ma’m , so sorry to have disturbed you during dinner. I hope I have not offended you in any way. Have a pleasant evening”.

I felt like someone had thrown water over a fire. Those kind words just calmed me down and I felt very guilty for having spoken the way I did. Water is soft and gentle and can flow easily over rocks. Its calm and smooth nature can easily dismantle the toughest of rocks.

I often hear friends getting frustrated that they could not ‘give it back to that person X who was being so rude’. To them I say – be gentle like water. You can cut through anything.

To water – the most precious commodity on earth! (Highly recommend this poem “The Cataract of Lodore – Robert Southey).

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