A raindrop falls. It begins its journey – its exact beginning is a bit mysterious, and it’s objectively hard to say when, if ever, it really ‘begins’ at all. Nevertheless, it begins its journey.
It explores the Earth. It has a knack for getting going right as the pressure and temperature is, well, just right for doing so. Some of its fellow particles take their leap of faith in the mountains, others in lakes; some out at sea from whence they came, and some in the flats, fields or cities.
Planting 2 Hydrogen ‘feet’ on the ground, with its Oxygen head ‘up’, H20 begins to go wherever the world takes it. Following the path of least resistance, from high potential to unfolding energy throughout the course of its life as a raindrop, this little bit makes it way through many a drainage point.
If you pick one drainage point, or ‘pour point’ on a stream of any size where this raindrop makes its moves, you can look at the landscape from a bird’s eye view and delineate its drainage basin: a watershed. This watershed marks all the area on Earth’s surface which contributes water overland to that pour point. What goes on within that watershed will all come to meet and mix with our hero H2O – many raindrops not unlike one another, but each with their own unique experiences and encounters on their path Home.
As we follow a raindrop on its journey, we see that it makes its way through many drainage basins, and as it goes downstream its corresponding watershed area increases. Some of the neighbors, close companions and acquaintances it meets along the way part ways perhaps too soon – evaporated from leaf, puddle, river, lake, or soil, or even transpired or drank by plant, person, or industry. Some embark on an arduous journey to recharge groundwater – the process is purifying, and those wise ones are well sought after. Perhaps it is not too soon that some counterparts part ways, but instead it is with natural and ‘perfect’ timing as that with which the raindrop makes its initial leap of faith in the first place. And after all, we’re all going to the same place in the end. …the end? It feels as diluted as the beginning.
By the time our raindrop friend makes its way to a mouth pouring out into its major regional basin, it will find a place to call Home for some unknown amount of time. This may be in an ocean, like the Atlantic or Indian, or in an endorheic basin where waters gather and remain inland for some equally ineffable time, like some of the world’s largest and most ancient lakes.
At last, Home sweet (or often rather salty…) Home. Resting in peace with the vastness of my H2O companions, huddled around camp fires of salt ions – we are all so common and indistinguishable here, yet we each play a key role in this dance, conducted by celestial bodies afar. Some oceans so endless, and some lakes so old. Some warm as a bathtub, some so cold as to even make us ice. A feeling of such connectivity, having once been so separated. And yet, these lakes are not so old after all – scientists approximate that even Earth’s oldest lake has existed for merely half of 1% of the entire time Earth itself has existed. And the oceans, not so unending – even filling over 2/3rd of the surface of the Earth, there is great depth to the happenings in small places around the world, and there is an atmosphere (and beyond) that is far vaster and more spacious… All this thinking has me wanting to explore, wanting to go on a journey. One day, at a time undoubtedly sanctioned by Nature’s Will, I go forth again with the energy of Wind & Sun. I rise up to the atmosphere, and I make my way to atmospheric rivers. I travel around the world. I take a leap of faith, and I set forth on a new path of which I know not how long or which way I will travel. My next journey will depend on a lot of things – what my fellow aqueous solutions & I will pickup along the way, what terrain lies ahead as great bedrock, beaver dams, potholes, gardens, forests, cities, … the way the world I travel through will affect me, and how I will affect it.
In a way my journey is a complete mystery, and yet it is somehow so familiar. Each time I go forth, I learn a little more, or maybe I come to know I know a little less. In any case, I flow, for that is the only way to go.
to all the raindrops who have passed
to the dew on morning grass
to the drying of the day, the chilling of the night
to the tears of the sky, and the new life it casts
it just keeps on flowing
i just keep owing
going, rowing, knowing