It’s a song that wholeheartedly beckons us into its crystalline realm. Beware, though. For at times, it will vehemently caution progress. Go no further. This is the song of water.
The sounds of water can dramatically vary from a calm-inducing bubbling and trickling, maybe even a resonant rush to a deafening and violent roar culminating in a crash against the shore. Regardless of its temper, we cannot help but find it mesmerising as it hypnotically arrests our attention, drawing us into its world. We are spellbound. Throughout our lives, we have both worked in it and played in it. To what extent does water have a hold on us? Why are we so bound to water?
One of the most important things to bear in mind is that humans are composed of mostly water. The human body consists of more than 65-75% water and it is central to our internal manufacture, as water is the major element of our cells. So, it is critical to our existence. It features in a host of other biological functions that are also critical to our survival. Water plays a key role in regulating our body temperature, something many of us note on a hot day when we perspire. At this time, water being held in the middle layer of our skin is then brought to the surface as perspiration. Afterwards, the water is then evaporated, thereby, cooling our bodies.
Meanwhile, water also plays a role in carrying the myriad nutrients and oxygen to the multitude of cells in our bodies. At the same time, it dissolves those nutrients and other minerals therby making them accessible for our bodies. Water helps moisten the tissues in our eyes, nose and mouth. We also notice another role for water when we move around as it lubricates our joints. It’s also been found that drinking just 500 ml of water can increase our metabolic rates by 30%. And it can also improve our moods meausurably by preventing dehydration. These offer a mere selection of the ways water plays a vital role in our very survival, something that greatly enhances our relationship with this critical essence of life.
Culture, Literature and Religion
And in so doing, it has also entered our religions, with prominent examples from Christianity such as baptism and the fact water symbolises purification in the form of Holy Water. In Hinduism, water acts in a similar manner, for water of the River Ganges is said to have the power to both cleanse and purifiy body and spirit. Similarly, in Islam, water symbolises wisdom and it is a part of life; we live, breathe and consume water.
Meanwhile, our literature is equally filled with reflections of the role of water in our lives. Noteworthy examples spring to mind such as Moby Dick where water is representative of unpredictability and transformation. William Shakespeare draws on the power of water in Macbeth as a symbol of purification. The chaos and inherent unpredictability of water are depicted in The Perfect Storm, a book and later a film. It is a tragic story that casts the life-giving characteristic of water with the story of fisherman against its mortal dangers.
We are moved by the flow of water and its inherent sinuosity and rhythm. Water is a symbol for life, with its substantial, yet intimate link with all the characteristics of who we are as creatures on this earth. And much as the life we seek, the flow of water has a constancy to it, a definitive path it steadfastly follows. Much like its connection to life, water is the symbol for rebirth and transformation.
Water also symbolises movement and change while simultaneously being a symbol of both stillness and tranquility. Think of a lake, shimmering glass-like in the moonlight. Sometimes water can function as the symbol of chaos, change, power and other things beyond our control. In all of these instances, we can envisage the magical flow of water, this way and that, haphazardly turning to the right and then quickly shifting to the left.
Our deep bond with water also stems from its fullness, covering a range of senses—touch, smell, sound, sight. It is in part symbolic of our innate link with the sky, the earth and the sea. We are often in awe when we step over a rise and behold a magnificent vista of the sea with its crashing waves, the traces of white caps lacing over its surface. However, it is only people such as fish catchers who know both the beauty, as well as the terror of an unforgiving view of the sea.
How many of us can recall walking along the beach, the water racing over our feet, the particles of sand skittering over them in the backwash. Perhaps we can stir in our minds the sensation of sinking into the water in a bathtub or luxuriating in the pecking droplets of a shower. All reflect the cherished sensation and touch of water on our bodies. But water can be equally ominous as anyone caught in a pelting rainstorm can attest.
Those who have spent time wandering along the seaside will remember the smell of the salty air. Fish catchers know it well. It is a smell that will bring with it the years of being close to the sea. For some, it is an ambrosia, an aroma that speaks of a life embedded in both the joys and woes of the sea. The whims of water.
As part of Our Way of Life
Finally, our intense connection with water is tied to its versatility in our lives. It is intertwined in our lives. Simply, after a long walk, jog, or bike ride, we reach for none other than a large bottle of refreshing water. When not drinking it, there are numerous ways it makes it into the foods we eat—salad, stew or soup. We enjoy ourselves immensely in ways closely linked to water. Whether it’s at the cabin situated on the pond where we can readily go for a swim or paddle our canoe, water features largely. As mentioned already, water is fundamental to vocations such as fishing. Potentially passive and flat-calm or angry and vociferous, it doesn’t matter. For fish catchers, the lure of the sea is difficult to ignore.
For as long as we can remember, our lives have been intimately bound to water. We are beautifully dependent on this element, at the same time as respecting its every mood. It plays a role in countless aspects of our lives. Water is the liquid of life.