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A Watery Idea

  Sometimes new ideas come to me, as they say, “out of the blue.”

The inspiration to drink nothing but water must have fallen out of the sky. Must’ve hit me on the head when I didn’t have my umbrella up. Must have run down my face, so to speak.

  It goes like this. I was looking for something to sacrifice as a religious discipline. Some call it “giving up” this or that for Lent, the 40 days before Easter. A friend of mine usually gives up chocolate. I guess that’s why there are so many chocolate bunny rabbits. I had a student once who said she gave up ugly words. Everybody is different on this matter.

  I didn’t for a moment think that giving up all dolled-up beverages-coffee, diet colas, orange juice, apple juice, grapefruit juice, lemonade, nonalcoholic beer, wine, and tea-was going to assure me of anything when I arrived at the Pearly Gates. I just figured my health might be improved.

  I had kicked the alcohol habit about eight years ago. I just told myself, or my self had spoken to me, and said, “This could kill you.” I heard the message and believed it.

I think it was about 25 years ago that I had another conversation with myself concerning cigarettes (cigars too), and the message was the same. Self said, “If you care anything at all about yourself and especially those who love you, you’ll put these things down and not pick them up again.” I became as compulsive about stopping as I had been about starting.

  Nothing but water to drink for 40 days? No piping-hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning? No artificial sweetener and creamer to make it taste better? No second and third cups? No parade of diet colas throughout the day? No marching aluminum cans with environmentally correct pull-tabs? No occasional dust on top of the can to be wiped off with a dirty thumb? No high tea with the queen in the afternoon? How could anybody possibly survive such a dehumanizing ordeal?

  Well, for the first day or two, I had some pretty severe headaches. Something was missing, and my body didn’t appreciate it. But then that passed, and my flesh and bones said, “This is cool.” My eyes have seemed less tired and more able to penetrate early morning fogs. My stomach is neither queasy nor growly. Sleep has improved, don’t need as much of it. Energy level is way up. Thinking seems crisper and livelier. Dreams are about the same as far as subject matter goes, although some have turned up in wide-screen, sound-o-ramic Technicolor.

  Yes, I’ve become a tad more preachy, as is usually normal for somebody who has attained a new straight-and-narrow status. But I’ve tried to avoid bragging and gloating when others go through their coffee fits and cola spasms.

There was an impulse to keep this amazing discovery a secret and start investing more in South American coffee and North American fizz. But, my self said, “You ought to write about it just this once, and then shut up about it.”

  Here’s the thing. “Cool, clear water,” as the tumbling tumbleweed boys used to say, is so good this new regimen stands a chance of lasting longer than 40 days. Since I’ve made it past my 70th birthday and am hoping for good health for another 30 years or so, I suppose anything is possible. Forty days could become a better lifetime.

  Trouble is, if the whole population tries “water only” and
comes to like it, the economy might go to the South Pole and other countries might accuse us of unfair trade practices. It’s hard to please everybody.

  Seriously, if there’s anything that makes sense about this watery idea, it could be a gentle reminder for moderation. Since some of us more compulsive folk don’t do moderation very well, our chore is to be quietly resolved to do what we believe is best for our own little pea-pickin’ selves.

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