This piece was written in response to the guidelines for this week’s Creativity Revolution theme. Five paragraphs of five sentences each. I have never tried something like this before, and it was fun.)
Drip. I looked up in confusion. I was scraping plates into the bin, and the last thing I expected to feel was the drip of something on my head. And then I saw the giant amoeba of damp in the ceiling with the next drip of water slowly pooling in the middle, cling until the last moment, and then falling, falling, falling to the ground. It was Boxing Day, and we had a water leak.
The source of the problem was not difficult to find. We matched up upstairs and downstairs, pulled back some carpet and found a giant patch of damp flooring. And underneath the flooring, a rusty nail formed the centrepiece of an unintentional miniature water feature. As it turned out, removing the nail had been something of a mistake, as the hole had grown and now water seeped steadily from the pipe. Identifying the source of the problem is not the same thing as solving it.
I have learned many things from this water leak. I have learned to be judicious in my use of water (no surprises there then). That you can make a small bit of water work very very hard, if you have the mind to. That we use water in so many suprising ways that we forget about. That it really doesn’t take long for a toilet to stink like the public toilets at a badly maintained railway station.
But more than that, I have a new appreciation of the things that I have (clothes, food, a roof over my head, and access to clean water), but also for the way life develops. A little thing – a too long screw, misplaced over a decade ago, set off a chain of events that led to ripped up floors and unwashed laundry. At any time in the last few years, we could have noticed something wasn’t quite right (in fact, I had noticed a dip in the floor where the wood was rotting away, but put it down to my imagination) and fixed it. But no, we waited until it was too late and hte damage had all been done before we tried to fix it. Well, almost too late.
So this is my lesson from the water leak. It’s not about the big consequences of the gaping hole in my floor or the all round inconvenience. It’s about noticing the little things before they become big things, noticing there might be an issue before the issue blocks your path. Because in life, as in water leaks, time doesn’t always heal. Sometimes time just makes things worse.