For about a 24-hour period during last week’s arctic blast, the cold water in the bathtub of our remote outpost quit flowing and we were unable to flush the toilet.

Each time the temperature in the Ozarks dips near the zero mark, there’s a good chance the running water situation will be effected at our crooked little 1930s farmhouse. On the coldest morning of the cold snap, I went out to the well house at about dawn to check the reading of the thermometer that’s mounted to the side of it, pretty much knowing what I was going to see, but still wanting to actually see it.

Sure enough, the mercury in the little glass rod was way, way down – at about three below the zero mark. I’ve had a feeling for some time now that the unit always registers about three degrees lower than the actual temperature, but that still meant we were talking zero Fahrenheit (brrr…).

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

Plenty cold for some plumbing issues.

For some reason, the faucet in the kitchen sink never stops running. But even when we employ the keep-it-dripping technique we often end up losing something elsewhere. Could be the hot water in the bathroom sink, could be the toilet, but whichever pipe ices up, we get a reminder of what an inconvenience it is to be without something as integral to our daily lives as running water.

And we’re also reminded of how blessed we are to have what we do have.

I used to be one to get right bothered by something like the water stopping. My perspective limited my viewpoint to the small picture and all I could do is wish I didn’t have to deal with the situation.

But God has worked hard to bust through my thick noggin and I see things differently now. Now my perspective helps me see the big picture, so during the recent deep-freeze plumbing incident I took note of how fortunate we were that the water was still running in the sink and that there was still hot water in the tub.
I don’t know, maybe it’s a cup half-full kind of thing. But the fact is I have come to realize how much time I used to waste believing I was somehow being short-changed whenever something I was used to was suddenly unavailable.

The reality is, there are a whole lot of people – some well within range of reading this – who don’t have a fraction of the amenities available to them that so many others take for granted.

Turn on a faucet and clean water flows. Flip a switch and light fills the room. Turn a dial or move a lever and be warmed when it’s cold or cooled when it’s hot. Open a door and grab some fresh food, wear a different set of clothing every day of the week or even be entertained at the push of a button.

Having so much so readily available makes it easy to take it all for granted. But while someone is sipping on a grande mocha at Starbucks while trying to decide whether to get a t-bone from Outback or a New York strip from Colton’s, there are countless others out there whose whole day would be made by a bowl of vegetable soup and a fresh cup of cold water.

I guess I’ve made it my duty to never lose sight of that.

I know it’s “not our fault” that we live where we do and therefore the way we do. As has been said, “you can’t pick your parents” or where you’re born.
But there are billions of people around the third rock from the sun who only wish they could be in the position to lose their running water. It’s too bad that that fact just gets lost in an ongoing material shuffle.

It’s not about calling the power company to discontinue electrical service or coming up with other ways to emulate a less fortunate lifestyle.
It’s OK to have what we have, but perhaps our appreciation level needs to be ratcheted up a notch or seven.

When my wife called me to say that all of our water was running again, my reaction was “hallelujah.” Realizing that lots and lots of people live in situations that simply don’t allow for similar reactions is kind of sad.

Just some food for thought next time you reach for the flush lever.

Doug Davison is a writer, copy editor and advertising representative for the Houston Herald. E-mail: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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