People have funny relationships with water. In making this candle, I was consistently reminded of a relative’s quirks. She has a divine affinity for the beach and oceanside life but she also struggles to drink any water throughout the day. In thinking about this relationship – not only hers, but that of all people and water – I think about the things in life that we don’t care to explain.
Water is something that is not just to be ingested. While it is very important and I highly recommended drinking it throughout the day, its effects can be applied endlessly. People often have their best ideas when they’re in the shower, which is great except that they’re forgotten by the time they’re dry, near a pen and paper. Water is used for natural births, meditative practices, religious rituals. It is also a major worry because of its wildlife, it’s extreme fluctuations, and a certain temple in a 1998 video game. Basically, water is simultaneously everything we need and the cause of many fears. Still, it is a complete necessity in life.
Of the countless anecdotes about water and the lessons we can learn from it, one serves as a greater inspiration for this scent beyond all others. The idea comes from Margaret Atwood’s modern retelling, The Penelopiad. In it, Atwood writes: “Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it.” There are few things that people have widely recognized as transcendent among all life. Even beyond humanity, there is a greater essence in water that is easily recognized without complete cohesion. Water has some manner about it that allows it to be equal parts inviting and terrifying; this is its magic.
Always and at the same time, water carries with it an all-encompassing beauty and a complete liberty. In those moments when you can truly experience water, in all its depth, you learn that there is much more beyond your understanding and the only thing that you can do is sit in amazement and hope to inherit some of its properties. Water is an entity all its own but it is not the same without the life and nature it helps prolong. Something as simple as a rose requires a process before it comes anywhere close to blooming freely in nature.
In all this, water is not amazing if it did not exist among other life. It is easy to take water for granted or to be angry at it for the chaos within and the terror it creates. Still, we must respect it as it is acting only as it knows. We have learned to navigate around water because we cannot go through it.
Water embodies more than we give it credit for, at least consistently. To capture a completely accurate representation of the ocean scent in a small jar is impossible but that’s the part that is exciting. We work to make memories. We act to keep the things we love the most. We do not do this to explain the things we love. Rather, we do this to commemorate those things and to have them as a constant reminder of the reasons for which we live.