The pipes of life

Posted 3/3/19

Life is a water pipe. It may be hard to wrap your mind around this, but it’s true. It will take a little “splaining” but bear with me.This past week the sun and blue sky made me feel like it …

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The pipes of life


Life is a water pipe. It may be hard to wrap your mind around this, but it’s true. It will take a little “splaining” but bear with me.

This past week the sun and blue sky made me feel like it was springtime. The wind out of the north reminded me that the vernal equinox was still a month away. 

I had a list of chores as long as a hoe handle. As the afternoon progressed, several things moved from my get r’ done list to my got r’ done list. It felt good.

I worked up a sweat. After drinking a bucket of water, I decided to take a shower to wash off the grime. Something happened while I was standing there that made me think of the complexities of life.

You may be asking what could have happened while showering. It was like this: I was blissing out in the warm water when Jilda punched the start button on the dishwasher and the clothes washer. The water coming out the shower head slowed so much that I had to do a kind of dance to wash off the soap. Then she flushed her commode. Had she decided to put water in the bird feeders, my shower stall would have had less water falling than a desert. 

So what does a shower have to do with life and what not? There is just so much water (or life) that can go through the pipe at the same time. 

Most plumbing pipes used in homes are relatively small. When you crank up the dishwasher, and the washing machine while taking a shower, they all have to compete for the water flowing through the small pipe. Metaphorically speaking, it’s the same with life.

There is a finite amount of time and resources in your life. If you’re in college, you can study, party, or hang out with friends. You can do all these things at one time, but you won’t do them well. I learned this one the hard way back in 1968 during my first semester of college. I aced partying, but I wound up taking freshman English three times before I passed it. Wish I’d understood more about waterpipes back then. 

The same is true later in life. Most people have families, careers, friends, and spiritual needs. When I commit too much time to one of these areas, it takes away time from the others. There’s an art to juggling life. I sometimes think I can pull it off, but I often struggle. The pipe is just not big enough to do everything at once.

Through the years I’ve seen families that suffered because a husband or wife spent most of their time and life energy on their careers. It’s possible to make complicated lives work, but it takes balance. It’s best to focus on what’s most important first and invest quality time there. Then work on the other things that matter.

If you doubt my logic here, I dare you to wash clothes, do laundry and take a shower at the same time. You better hope no one flushes the commode.

Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Goes On is available on You can contact him via email at