I recently came across an Ethiopian proverb in an article I was reading: “Fish discover water last.” They grow up in it, swim in it, live in it and never realise it’s there until it becomes polluted or disappears, and then the results are catastrophic.

This started an interesting train of thought about consciousness and gratitude.

What are the elements of our environment, our lives and our values that we most take for granted, and therefore do not truly see and appreciate until they are gone? This seems particularly pertinent right now, with so many aspects of our existence being severely affected by the COVID pandemic.

The freedom to leave our homes, the delight of spending time with loved ones, the simple pleasure of human touch; all basics of everyday life which have been taken from us and which we must surely appreciate anew when we regain them in full.

What is your ‘water’?

The article’s author suggested that, as humans, our ‘water’ is trust. Without trust in our families, our work, our society, the world as we know it doesn’t exist.  We trust everyone will stick to driving on the correct side of the road; trust that the (vast majority) will abide by rules and community behaviours, such as paying for things from the shops.

But aside from trust, what else is so close to us that we can’t see it? How can we bring it into focus? And what would happen if we not only discover it but, in becoming conscious of it, we savour, treasure and protect it?

There is another adage that springs to mind here: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Not only is there a danger that we don’t see or appreciate that which surrounds us, but that ultimately our blindness to it can evolve into neglect.

Gaining perspective

To discover our water we must take a step back and gain some perspective on our lives.  I use ten minutes of meditation each day to help me pause and reflect. Coupled with ten minutes of journaling, it is a moment to marshal my thoughts and capture them on paper, which means I can revisit them later too. Allowing the passing of time in this way also enhances objectivity and clarity.

Finding purpose

It could be said that to discover our water is part of the journey to finding our purpose. I have previously written extensively about finding purpose. Understanding what it is that helps sustain you (as water sustains the fish) will give you a clue to where your purpose lies; the ‘why’ that frames the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ that you do.

Take some time today to think about your water. What do you need to change to ensure that it is protected and nurtured?

I’d love to hear about your discoveries.

Let’s start something new!

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