The shape of water
I know I’m late to the party, but it astonished me this week when I learnt that the law of conservation of mass means that all the water that exists on earth today is the same water that has been here since time began. The rain that fell on the stegosaurus is, potentially, also the rain that falls on me now. This prehistoric water could conceivably be in the daffodil beside my house or part of the Hoover Dam. If I am roughly 60% water then I am also roughly 60% that-which-was-once-something-else. Nothing could make me gladder than this.
In a time when the loudest voices seem to be telling us to raise the drawbridge on our common humanity we all need a reminder that there is so much more uniting us than that which may be cause for division. What is it that you might have once been? It’s one thing to think that some of the water that is currently my body may have once been something lovely - a sweetpea say - and entirely another to admit that part of who I am today might have been part of something or someone entirely unpleasant. It’s possible there is some old dorset highwayman in me yet.
And this is also strangely consoling because the water that makes me Helen might once have been the water that makes you you. There is, at some fundamental level, no us or them, no you or I, no in or out; there are only people and a beautiful world to inhabit together. There are bees, scorpions, oak trees, wolves, coffee beans, humans, pineapples and cyclamen. All part water. All part something, or someone, else.