April 19, 2009

Lifting Water

An old man stood hip-deep in the ocean, lifting water. In a relaxed position, beginning with hands at sides, he raised his arms slowly, wrists bent at a sharp angle to the sky, fingers pointing down to exert their pull on the sea. Breathing deeply inward to reach all his power, he raised his hands to eye level, at which time the exertion of raising the waves caused him to expel his breath and slowly lower his arms. He repeated this action hundreds of times. The waves rose and fell, and washed in and out.

Two boys came along and, when they asked, he told them what he was doing. “Fool old man,” they said, “you not lifting water.”

“Then how do you explain the fact that every time I lift my arms, the water rises?” he said as they pelted him with sand. “Not only that, the weight of the water is strengthening my arms.”

“Water lifting you.” For indeed, every time a swell came, it carried him off his feet. “Water lifting water. You lifting you. Only thing not happening is you lifting water.”

“You have no understanding,” he said. The boys ran off, despising him with their laughter.

Ten years later, a huge wave came and washed away buildings, boats, and swimmers, and the old man died of grief. The next day one of the boys, a man now, stood hip-deep in the man’s old spot and began lifting water.