April 7, 2021
When I was little, I hated drinking water. Well, to be fair, New York City tap water way back then tasted pretty yucky. So I just didn’t drink any. And I was allergic to milk, so I couldn’t drink that either. And I was not a big juice fan. So I spent a lot of my time feeling—thirsty. Then, one magical day, at my cousin’s apartment, I discovered Coca-Cola. Where had they been keeping this amazing and delicious beverage? I wondered. It was sweet, it was fizzy, Coke was like a party in a bottle! I’d finally found something I loved to drink!
But there’s a funny thing about Coke. I could drink gallons of it (and I did) and it could give me a mouthful of cavities (and it did) but I would still be thirsty--almost like my body was trying to tell me something, but I wasn’t listening.
As an adult, my antipathy towards water, and my affinity for soda, continued. Oh, after a workout or tennis game I’d guzzle a little H2O, but never nearly enough to replenish what I’d lost during exercise. Usually, I’d imbibe exactly the amount required to swallow my pills in the morning, and not a drop more.
Recently, I purchased a large, snazzy water bottle and have been trying to drink at least 6 glasses worth a day. My motives aren’t the purest (my skin has been really dry; I am struggling to lose some weight) but whatever the reasons, my body is reacting positively to this change.
Monday was World Water Day, and that reminded me of how difficult it is to obtain fresh drinking water in many parts of the world, and how lucky I am to be able to just turn on a tap and watch it flow. Over the years, our church has supported charity:water, an amazing organization founded by Scott Harrison. Scott had been a nightclub promoter on the NYC party scene through his twenties; at age 30 he decided to change the course of his life. He spent two years on a hospital ship off the coast of Liberia, seeing the health consequences of dirty water. Since 2006, charity:water has raised $500 million for projects in 29 countries, providing clean water to 11 million people.
We live in a world that tries to sell us Coke, when what we need is water. The world tells us that we need things that are symbolically “empty calories,” things that may sound good, or look good, or taste good, but can really hurt us. And there’s cool, refreshing water right here waiting for us, and we don’t even notice.
These glorious first weeks of Spring, as I attempt to turn over a new leaf with a water-drinking routine, may I evaluate ALL the empty calories in my life, and fill up on the good stuff instead: compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, kindness. And may I do my part to provide life-giving water to my brothers and sisters who thirst.