Monday, March 04, 2019

Life is a water pipe ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Life is a water pipe. It may be hard to wrap your mind around this, but it’s true. It will take a little “splaining” but bear with me.
This past week the sun and blue sky made me feel like it was springtime. The wind out of the north reminded me that the vernal equinox was still a month away. 
I had a list of chores as long as a hoe handle. As the afternoon progressed, several things moved from my get r’ done list to my got r’ done list. It felt good.
I worked up a sweat. After drinking a bucket of water, I decided to take a shower to wash off the grime. Something happened while I was standing there that made me think of the complexities of life.
You may be asking what could have happened while showering. It was like this: I was blissing out in the warm water when Jilda punched the start button on the dishwasher and the clothes washer. The water coming out the shower head slowed so much that I had to do a kind of dance to wash off the soap. Then she flushed her commode. Had she decided to put water in the bird feeders, my shower stall would have had less water falling than a desert. 
So what does a shower have to do with life and what not? There is just so much water (or life) that can go through the pipe at the same time. 
Most plumbing pipes used in homes are relatively small. When you crank up the dishwasher, and the washing machine while taking a shower, they all have to compete for the water flowing through the small pipe. Metaphorically speaking, it’s the same with life.
There is a finite amount of time and resources in your life. If you’re in college, you can study, party, or hang out with friends. You can do all these things at one time, but you won’t do them well. I learned this one the hard way back in 1968 during my first semester of college. I aced partying, but I wound up taking freshman English three times before I passed it. Wish I’d understood more about waterpipes back then. 
The same is true later in life. Most people have families, careers, friends, and spiritual needs. When I commit too much time to one of these areas, it takes away time from the others. There’s an art to juggling life. I sometimes think I can pull it off, but I often struggle. The pipe is just not big enough to do everything at once.
Through the years I’ve seen families that suffered because a husband or wife spent most of their time and life energy on their careers. It’s possible to make complicated lives work, but it takes balance. It’s best to focus on what’s most important first and invest quality time there. Then work on the other things that matter.
If you doubt my logic here, I dare you to wash clothes, do laundry and take a shower at the same time. You better hope no one flushes the commode.


  1. Very good metaphor, it is difficult to balance what is important in life. Like you, I often studied with the party spigot wide open...I also did not have a great result...I did have fun though.

  2. There's a comparison I've never really considered. See, ideas for columns and posts can come from the oddest places.
    As for unwelcome changes of water pressure and temperature while showering - anyone who has lived anywhere without mains pressure knows about that!

  3. The comparison is a good one. If one doesn't watch out in life they will be as this 'jack'. Jack of all trades and master of none. I can attest to that statement.
    Good one!
    Sherry & jack, central Florida

  4. Haha. We do not run anything else with water while one is in the shower. Thats the rules!!!!

  5. Could be my advanced age, but I'm thinking this post is your 'best ever'!

  6. When that happens to me, I start yelling at my hubby because it either gets really cold or way too hot:) I like your metaphor because if one runs too many things at once you either are left feeling cold or you feel burnt

  7. I read this with interest, nodding and agreeing with the post

  8. How philosophical of you. I really hate it when someone flushes while I am taking a nice warm shower that turns into a flow of ice water.

  9. Very wise Rick! Getting balance is tough at times but it can be done. I've made the balancing mistake myself in my younger days. Wish I knew then what I know now. Actually I probably did know then what I know now but just didn't believe it! Did Jilda draw that lovely pic for your post? I'm betting a yes on that! (I'm not a betting person or very lucky!)


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