sunlight shining through

"We take for granted electricity, water, even concerts. Count your blessings." - Damian Marley

I was looking for a quote from some ancient wise sage or at least someone that we think of as wise. But none fit the topic quite like reggae musician Damian Marley’s words. Have you ever considered what it takes to pull off an awesome concert? What about turning on the tap and receiving clean water? Or flipping a little plastic switch and, voila, light? Are you grateful not just for the water, the electricity, and the music, but for all the people and resources that are required to provide them?

In my first career as a city planner, I worked a lot with infrastructure needs for communities. Today, as President of our local water and sanitation district board, I’m back in touch with just what it takes for the tap to flow and the toilet to flush at my command. After all that’s what most of us expect several times each day. Right? We simply don’t think about where our water comes from and what keeps it flowing to (and from) our home.

An event in our community this week evoked the thought that a bit more awareness could remind us that water is a precious resource. And, that knowing a bit about what is required to operate a water system could give us pause to be grateful to those who keep it flowing.

As a result of a series of equipment failures, our community awoke Monday morning to a “Water Use Emergency Warning”. We had lost the ability to pump water into the system. We had only the amount of water already in storage, two or three days at most, to keep the taps flowing. Residents and our summer visitors were urged to limit water use to drinking, cooking, and limited flushing.

In crisis is opportunity and the opportunity I found for myself personally was three-fold: awareness, choice, and gratitude.

I quickly observed numerous wasteful habits, mindless use of water that I needed to correct not just in the emergency but permanently. I became aware of how much water I can reuse and how little water I can comfortably get by on.

I recognized a choice to worry about the outcome or to sit back and allow those who know so much more than I to do what they do best. I hope that I was successful in doing the later, in helping with communication, in raising questions for us to consider as we look back and asses this event, and, perhaps most important of all, cheering on this amazing team.

I’m grateful beyond measure to the men and women who went far above and beyond the call of duty to get our system back in operation. Their efforts kept an emergency situation from becoming a serious community crisis.

Today we live in reliance on systems like the water system in my community and on the individuals who keep those systems running. I hope you’ll take a few moments when you turn on the tap to feel gratitude for their contributions to your life, and that you’ll consciously count this as one of your many blessings each and every day.