Last Saturday, we woke up to no water. A pipe in our street had burst and resulted in disrupted supply over the course of a few days while the repair was done. A basic service – such as clean running water – is taken for granted by many of us who are used to receiving it and as such, we were somewhat unprepared to deal with the fallout.
“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude” – Cynthia Orzirk
Just about every piece of “personal development” literature preaches gratitude. To a degree, I think most of us are grateful for things we have and yet, as cliche as this is, it takes losing something – in this case access to running water in our household – to make us truly appreciate something we have unbridled access to. In a country where masses still live in abject poverty, it puts into perspective how truly fortunate we are to not have to walk carrying slopping buckets of water from the nearest source several kilometres away. We simply open a tap without giving it a second thought.
For anyone who has ever studied, well, anything, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is probably pretty recognisable. It holds true in this particular water pipe drama, as without having a basic need met, the upper levels are rendered somewhat irrelevant. It’s hard to aspire to “achieve your full potential” when you haven’t been able to flush your toilet for a few days…
“If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs you, but your own judgment about it. And it is in your power to wipe out this judgment now.” – Marcus Aurelius
Complaining (or as was the reaction from some, “melting down”) over the burst pipe would have been in no way constructive. There was no way to change what had happened and, over-and-above what was already being done to get the repair underway, there was nothing we could do about the situation. It was with this in mind that our household approached the event in a particularly stoic manner – it is what it is and life continues on.
“We suffer more in imagination than in reality.” – Seneca
Arrangements were made to take care of our sanitary needs and everything else requiring water (which is more than you realise until you have none) was put on hold until after the repair. The pipe is now fixed and we are grateful for our access to running water in a way different from before. There is a feeling of gratitude beyond simply stating “we’re really lucky to have it”.
“In a little while you will have forgotten everything; in a little while everything will have forgotten you.” – Marcus Aurelius
As it always does, the lesson we took away from this drama will fade in direct proportion with the amount of time which passed since the event. As the so-called middle class, we’d caught a rare glimpse of the bottom of Maslow’s table. But perhaps we need this from time to time to remind us that convenience breeds complacency. Literally everything we have, whether it’s something we own or something that is provided for us, can be taken away at any moment.
I am grateful for this reminder.