Sunday, January 21, 2018

What's Your Water?

Embracing Water (art by Hallelujah Truth)
An intriguing question! I've been contemplating this question since I attended the 100 Miles Second Annual Conference on Jekyll Island, Georgia, USA, last week (January 13th).  The renown marine biologist, movement maker, and visionary, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, passionately spoke about WATER with an evangelical fervor!
WHAT'S YOUR WATER? The question asked by Wallace J. Nichols at the beginning of his keynote talk at the 2018 100 Miles Conference on Jekyll Island, Georgia, USA. 

Someone a while ago asked me which one of the four elements (Earth, Water, Air, or Fire) I most identified with. The questioned haunted me for some reason. In part, I felt challenged. I had always held all of the Earth to be very dear. Why would I choose one element to embrace in particular?

Then one day when I was hiking with my boon companion, Tony Martin, on Mount Arabia, a national heritage area close to where we live in Decatur, Georgia, I had an epiphany! I was hopelessly and madly in love with ROCKS.
YAY ROCKS! Of the four elements, I have fallen deeply and madly in love with ROCKS. Here I am at Mount Arabia, a granite monadnock, which has its own rich ecosystem. (photo by boon companion, Tony Martin)

For those of you who know me, you know that my boon companion and husband is a paleontologist, and even more importantly, an ichnologist! Since we met in 2001, I have spent innumerable hours out in the world on, at, surrounded by, and embraced by ROCKS. 

These ROCKS have histories! Rich in story, they can tell us about how the earth evolved, rivers that flowed through them in ancient times, fiery powerful forces uplifting them and downshifting them, and life (like dinosaurs) that walked upon them and left their traces.

I adore the smell of rocks, their rough and smooth surfaces beneath my feet, and the vast and various colors! Yay ROCKS! 

So imagine my surprise at being asked to shift my mindset to WATER at this 100 Miles Conference (I have always seen the 100 miles of our Georgia Coastline as an inseparable duality of land and sea). Why should I consider the question: WHAT'S YOUR WATER? Why is this question relevant and why is a research associate at the Academy of Sciences asking it? 
Wallace J. Nichols
#100MilesGA 2018

Because the health of our Earth's waterways and oceans is dependent on each of us connecting with WATER in a personal way! It is not enough for us to "know" the facts that our oceans are at risk from rising temperatures, overfishing, and pollution. We must also "feel" impacted by those negative changes as a result of our relationship to WATER. From connection comes responsibility, and from responsibility, action.

The only way we are going to succeed in engaging ourselves and others in conserving WATER is to get EMOTIONALLY involved. It is not enough to espouse water's value intellectually through education of its economic value and the balance of ecological systems! NO!

We must love WATER wholeheartedly with both our minds and--significantly--OUR HEARTS!
THE FOUR E's! In addition to "knowing" about water through the 3 E's --Ecological, Economical, Educational -- we need to experience it through our Emotions. (This image is a PowerPoint slide from Wallace J. Nichols' keynote talk at #100MilesGA.)
Imagine a scientist inviting us to name our WATER. What is your experience with water? Can you name the body of WATER you first went swimming in as a child? What kind of activities do you do with WATER? How does WATER make you feel? 

Wallace J. Nichols wrote an entire book -- BLUE MIND -- exploring the role WATER plays in our lives. As a scientist, he looks to neuroscience to explain the benefits to us humans at an emotional and health level. In the works is a new book, "The Seven Ages of Water," in which Nichols explores from birth through death the cognitive, emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual benefits of healthy waterways and oceans.
CALLING FOR A SPIRITUAL AND CULTURAL TRANSFORMATION. Asking scientists to shift in how they engage themselves and the general public in thinking about conservation. (Wallace J. Nichols used this in his keynote talk #100MilesGA 2018)

ALWAYS INCLUDE "BLUE MIND." The summary slide of Wallace J. Nichols' keynote talk at #100MilesGA celebrates the role of WATER in our lives. He emphasizes that we all need access to water at every stage of our lives. He also encourages conservationists and scientists to be present to the universal need of humans to connect with water and to share this "Blue Mind" awareness in their public outreach. 
BLUE MIND. For a week, I have been contemplating what my "Blue Mind" might be. Right now, I am dancing with my WATER, open to feeling the connection I know I have. For the past three days, I have been drawing this "Blue Mind" image, meditating on the various water experiences in my life. I am so thankful for this opportunity to expand my heart in connection with the Earth. In a short 7 days, I am thinking differently about WATER. It is almost like I am hearing its pulse. And that pulse is amplifying. In the future, I will write more about my WATER experience. (Art by Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter)
OUR BELOVED GEORGIA COAST. In answering the question "What's Your Water," I can make this claim: My WATER(s) are the coastal waterways along the coast of Georgia and the marshes and fresh waters on its barrier islands. I have had the enormous privilege of spending time up and down the 100 miles of our Georgia coast as Tony Martin researched and wrote his book, Life Traces of the Georgia Coast, and now works with his Emory colleagues the digital project, The Georgia Coast Atlas. Here we are on Ossabaw Island, December 2017. With each visit to the Georgia coast, I fall more deeply in love with what we locals call the Golden Isles. 
That's Coffee with Hallelujah for now! Soul Blog with me. I want to know your answer to the question: WHAT'S YOUR WATER?


  1. I am a water person. When I was two, I fell off a pier into Sister Bay, part of Lake Michigan, and had a classic near-death experience, except the light that surrounded me was not white but pale, luminous green. I remember the love and wonder very clearly even now, and my irritation when I was dragged back by my grandfather pounding my back on the shore. Every major change in my life has been preceded by a dream in which I am flying high, high and then arrow down into the sea where I arc through the water with a pod of dolphins, who are my beloved companions. My special blue is the coastline of Massachusetts. I am in the final stages of ten years' recovery from a serious illness, and my great goal for 2018 is to swim in the ocean. I have not been strong enough until now, but I know that that water will complete my healing.

    Thanks for listening. I always love Hallelujah, but this particular incarnation of her truth will live in my heart. Again, thank you. Your continuing generosity as you share your spirit with all of us is deeply appreciated. <3 S

    1. Sally thank you for blogging your Soul here with me. I welcome your answer to the question, "What's Your Water." You have answered in such a deep and heartfelt way, I am truly moved. I envy your life's journey with water. How good to know you not only embrace water but that water first embraced you! I wish you the healing you require this year to swim in your beloved ocean. Deep appreciation for your support.

  2. I have always been a water person. The cold north Georgia streams course through my veins. I spent many weekends playing in them with my family growing up. I have always been drawn to water. In my profession, I am Executive Director of an organization that advocates for clean water and healthy rivers. My water is the river I live next to. The Sangamon. It is the story for all I do. But Ruth it is so true that people must fall in love with water and rivers if they are to take action to protect them. We have become disconnected from water in all its forms. It's someone else's job to protect it, not ours. I'm working with a civic theater director in my community to help people reconnect to water by taking a journey to each of the 5 rivers (headwaters) that run through our county over the coming months. What's Your Water will be the perfect question to ask! Thank you for sharing this gift!!--Carol Hays

  3. Carol Hayes the work you are doing is so important! I love the way you use your immense creativity to work (and play?) with others around water conservation. I look forward to learning how your collaborative water project goes with your community theater.