Many years ago, long before she was my wife, Christiana gave me a gift of a purple and pink Sigg water bottle. One of the many things she does to help me is to look after my health in any way she can. Even as our society shuns BPA plastic and bottlers move towards safer and more sustainable packaging there are still many other safety reasons to not drink out of plastic water bottles.
About a month after she gave it to me she finally asked, “So how are you liking the new water bottle I gave you?” I think she probably asked because she noticed that I still had plastic water bottles all over the car and the apartment. I figured the best path was to not beat around the bush so I answered her by saying, “I pretty much hate it…”
The look on her face was akin to as if I had just stuck my finger in Pointy Max’s eye. What does that mean you ask? If you don’t know you’ll have to read on to the end and wait for the connection. After her intense frown settled down into general dissatisfaction, she asked me why I hated the innocent bottle. I told her
- It’s too heavy
- I can’t see into it and know how much water was left inside
- The top always gets stuck
- The water tastes tinny
- If I lose it I would feel bad because she bought it for me
Four out of five of those things were mostly true. It’s amazing that I knew all those things about a water bottle I had never actually even tried to use. Let’s just say I might have been a little contrarian when it came to change in the old days.
For the next few years she would occasionally leave the Sigg bottle out on the counter as if to make a subtle suggestion for me to try to use it again, but I would always bury it in the back of the cabinet above the refrigerator when she wasn’t looking. For a brief period I adapted to using a glass water bottle with a rubber netting around it, but boy if I thought the Sigg was heavy, this thing had the atomic weight of plutonium. Eventually I was back to my Ice Mountain/Fiji/Evian bottles around the house and the car.
A couple of years ago when we moved from the downtown area to the north side, I started to ride my bike more often again. I even started to ride to and from work a few days a week which is about a 25 mile round trip. I’m really good about trying to stay hydrated so I would always grab a plastic bottle of water and throw it in the bottle holder on my bike, but because the plastic bottles were a little too small they would often bounce out as I rode over the bumpy roads and bike paths in Chicago.
One morning a few months after the move I couldn’t find a single bottle of water in the house. I looked in the cabinet over the refrigerator and in I saw the glass bottle with the rubber netting, but that thing was way too big and way too heavy to put in the bottle rack on my bike. Way in the back of the cabinet I saw the old purple and pink Sigg water bottle. With no other options at hand and time running out on me I grabbed it, filled it up with filtered water from the refrigerator I was standing in front of and dashed off to the garage.
When I slid the Sigg water bottle into the bottle rack on my bike it fit like a glove. It was tight enough to stay in place securely over the bumps in the road, but easy enough to lift out while I was riding. About half way through my 45 minute ride to work I reached down to get my first sip of water. It was a warm day, yet the water inside the Sigg bottle was still as cool as it was when it came out of the fridge. I thought, “How nice and refreshing.”
I continued to take cool sips of water along the journey and when I got to work I noticed that I still had a little water left in the Sigg. Instead of tossing out an empty 16 ounce plastic bottle I had enough to enjoy one last gulp at the end of my ride from the larger Sigg. I took the bottle inside and slid it into the side pouch of my backpack. Once again it fit like it was made for the job; snug but easy to get in and out. I thought, “Maybe this thing isn’t as bad as I thought it was…” I can be fairly open minded when given enough time and space to figure out how and forced to extreme measures!
Over the last two years my Sigg bottle has covered a lot of ground with me. It has been on over a thousand miles of cycling with me. It has been emptied at TSA stations and carried to Ireland, France, and many destinations in the United States. I have left it behind at work, at the gym, at yoga studios and a few other places along the way. Each time I go back for it it magically seems to be exactly where I left it.
At first when I would leave it behind somewhere I would just wait until I got back to the place where I left it and hope that it would be there. Lately though that has shifted. The last time I left it at work I called one of my co-workers and asked them to set it aside for me. The last time I left it at the gym I called the desk and asked them to put my name on it until I got back that way later in the week. This past Thursday I left it in the rear section of the Olsen Auditorium where we hold our weekly Toastmasters meetings. The reason I left it was because I put it behind a half wall that divides the front and the back of the auditorium. Olsen is in a hospital on the north side of the city and there was nobody I could possibly call to throw out a safety net for my Sigg.
Fortunately for me I had to go back into the same area the next morning at 6:00 a.m. to teach a yoga class at one of the same clubs where I have previously left the Sigg behind. Before I went to class I walked over to the hospital. I checked in at the front desk and told them the purpose of my mission. I dashed through the halls of the hospital and walked up to find the doors of Olsen auditorium closed. I could only hope that they had not been locked by some hospital custodian because I was short on time and I could feel the pressure building. I grabbed the handle and to my great joy the door swung open. I turned to the right and walked five long steps. Before I could even look over the half wall I saw my purple and pink Sigg sitting on the ledge of that same half wall and my heart lifted up its corners and smiled. Someone must have come in to clean the auditorium overnight, found the bottle and decided to leave it behind just in case the owner came back with the hope of finding it.
Christiana and I are the proud owners of a collection of Ugly Dolls. The senior member of the team is a guy named Pointy Max. He’s green, has a pointy head and sees the world with one eye. We acquired him in New York City on her 28th birthday trip. The Ugly dolls reside in our bedroom along with my two teddy bears named Teddy and Angry Bear. We also have hippos in two sizes and a couple of minions named Dave and Bob. Yes, we are delightfully ridiculous. When we travel, Pointy Max and Angry Bear always go along for the journey and sometimes a few other friends are granted special visas. When I want to aggravate Christiana late at night (which is a frequent game I play) I will pick up one-eyed Pointy Max and playfully stick a finger in his eye. She always jumps to his defense. That’s what Love does: It defends the things it cares about.
Yesterday morning when I went back to get my Sigg water bottle at the hospital I thought back to the day that I told Christiana that I hated it. Five years later I had grown so attached to the darn thing that I was almost as concerned as I would have been if we had left Pointy Max or Angry Bear at the airport. I declared that I hated the bottle when it was shiny and new, but over the years as it has taken on its dents and scratches and it had traveled through the story of my life with me, that hate grew into love. Funny how things change when we allow for love to grow where hate existed.
One of the biggest changes in my life in the last year is that I have realized that if I want to speak about love and change the energy that allows for hate of any kind, I must eradicate the word hate from my vocabulary. Only by completely changing the way that I speak and think can I fully embrace a vibration of love and joy at the soul level.
When we change our energy of hate to love, even as it relates to a seemingly insignificant thing like a water bottle, we create a different energetic flow throughout our entire selves. We allow ourselves and all the things and the people around us that make up the illusion that is the story of our life to become more real.
In the Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams writes about how love makes things real.
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Hate has sharp edges without exception…
Many years back when Christiana gave me the gift of the purple and pink Sigg water bottle, she did it out of the same type of love that I felt when I gave her Pointy Max for her 28th birthday. The same type of pure, innocent, unconditional love that Margery Williams writes about in the Velveteen Rabbit. The kind of pure love that a child feels in their heart long before they learn anything about how to hate. Unfortunately we unlearn that purity as we grow older. Fortunately we can learn it right back. If we allow love to grow in places where hate either does or did reside, the Universe will continue to heal and we will all live in a place of peace.
I’m so grateful to be changing the way I live and the way I think…one breath at a time, one step at a time and one sip at a time. I’ve grown to love that purple and pink Sigg water bottle. I love it not only because it keeps my water cool or because it’s always there for me when I leave it behind or because it holds enough water for a long ride. I love it because like the person who gave it to me, it has taught me so much about how to love well. I may have fewer hairs on my head, my eyes don’t read small print so well and my knees are a little more creaky than they were ten years ago, but I’ve never felt more real or more capable of giving or receiving love in my entire life.