Have you ever turned on the hose, left the water running, and forgot about it? Confession time!
I know my horse owner friends can relate to this. How many of you have gone to fill the water trough and forgot about it? Well, last week I turned on the hose to fill our backyard ornamental pond because it was low. Per my usual multi-tasker fashion, I dashed off to take care of a million different tasks because I could not and would not simply sit around and watch it fill. That would be a waste of time! Usually I’m great at estimating what I can get done while topping off the pond and always come back in plenty of time to shut it off. Not this time. I totally forgot about it. I went in the house, ate dinner, went to bed. The next day we went downtown to see a friend’s play… the hose was running all this time. In the late afternoon the next day I happened to step out into the backyard and discovered…
Thankfully, it was not as bad as what poor people lately have endured after the terrible floods and hurricanes that have hit (my heart goes out to those people who lost everything and I’ not making light of floods!), but my pond had overflowed, inundating the patio and surrounding area. But the truly scary thing in this case was not so much I had totally forgotten about it (which is frightening enough), but something else. You see, we are on a well! I immediately Googled “how fast can a running hose make your well run dry?” and “what happens if your well goes dry?” What I learned kept me awake all night. I didn’t confess my memory lapse-induced blunder to my husband for fear of him confirming what I already thought about myself–what a dumb, air-headed thing to do! (When I did tell him, he said no such thing and actually made light of it.) Nonetheless, I was terrified that I had damaged the well pump and possibly caused the well to run dry.
Then the Days of Rain Darkened the Sky…
There was nothing I could do but try to cut down on water use and pray it would be okay. The very next day, the remnants of Hurricane Ian came up the Mid Atlantic, darkening the skies with days of steady rain. As much as we all grumbled about the days and days of cold rain and gloomy weather, I was secretly thankful because it meant a possible replenishment of the ground water levels. Then I started thinking about other wells going dry–personal wells. I had been overdoing a lot lately, maybe attributing to my memory lapse, and had started to feel less and less enthusiastic about doing things I used to enjoy. I was getting dull, lethargic, and lacked the creativity and imagination I needed not just for my writing tasks, but also for enjoying life in general.
How a Personal “Dry Well” Can Became a Flood
Here’s where we come to the moral of the story. I had become a dry well. There was no creativity left in me because I had run my well dry. I wasn’t feeding the ground water or priming the well pump with the kind of creative, artistic, or fun activities (or rest) needed to keep the healthy waters flowing. Everyone has a different means of feeding their personal well. It might be quiet time reading a favorite author. It could be time away from everyone hiking in nature. I even know people who derive pleasure from cooking or baking (I can’t imagine!). All these and more can feed your energy, creativity, and imagination. Whatever it is, you need to do it. When the well goes dry, you can’t pump anything out no matter how hard you try and you usually end up burning out the pump.
I’m taking time to read deeply and research about personality types (like in the enneagram) in preparation for creating new, interesting characters. I’m also taking my horse for long walks without any agenda so that I can simply enjoy being outside and spending time with her. And, as a final note, I’m telling my critical self to shut up when it starts saying I’m wasting time and should be more productive. Feeding the soul is never a waste of time.