How Do You Drink Water?

Date June 30, 2008

Elephant Burgers

Elephant Burgers is usually about different ways to approach large or ongoing projects and break them into achievable steps. It’s about accomplishment. But what happens when something is important to do, but it isn’t a project to complete?

My son has a study unit at school called “The Basic Needs of Man.” We’re all familiar with the concept. For survival you need food, clothing, and shelter.

Shelter can be a huge project, like building a house. Our neighbor had her small frame house demolished a year and a half ago to build a larger brick home. After many delays, she last said she hoped to move in at the end of March. They still aren’t finished. But when they are she will have a beautiful new home. The project will be over and shelter will only require occasional tasks, like maintenance and cleaning.

Clothing can be a project, too, like sewing a shirt or pair of pants. Even shopping for clothes can be a project if you have to choose a wardrobe for a new situation, such as snow skiing or professional speaking. But between episodes of shopping or sewing, clothing just requires small tasks, like washing and ironing or trips to the dry cleaner.

Food is rarely a project, except for special events. It requires some planning and preparation to make at home, adding a stop to your list to bring home take-out, or scheduling time and allotting money for eating out.

We pay even less attention to water usually, but it’s a much more immediate need than food. When we get thirsty in a public place we look for a water fountain. If we’re running errands, usually in our cars, we can stop at a store to buy something in a paper cup or a plastic bottle. At home we just open the fridge or get out a glass and fill it up.

We have a need that is more compelling even than water. It’s air. We have to breathe all the time. We can’t go very long without it. But unless we’re scuba diving or launching into space we don’t think about having air with us. We don’t even think about breathing most of the time. We just do it.

Think about the things that are important to you that parallel physical survival. These would be things that you need for spiritual health and emotional health. They’re things we easily bump out of the schedule because we don’t feel the immediate thirst, or hunger, or cold.

Our physical bodies are good at stating needs. Our emotional and spiritual selves are much less direct. We suddenly realize we are very bored and disconnected, or very lonely, or drained of energy, and are surprised by it until we think about how we have treated ourselves.

Your emotional and spiritual selves need regular attention and care, like your body needs water and air. You need quiet time, time for connecting, time for challenges that cause you to stretch and grow, time to grieve and let go, time to rejoice, and time to explore inner stillness. Unless you’re focusing on a spiritual journey, none of these things are likely to be on your schedule.

But you need them like you need water and air. They’re just not as demanding as the physical needs. We have to remember to schedule time each day for drinking in and for breathing in what we need emotionally and spiritually. It’s key to good self-care.

Comments are closed.