I am an empty water jug. You know those ones in pictures of drought ridden regions of the world. The jugs are able to hold a couple gallons of water. They are a white, translucent plastic that always ends up looking brown or red depending on the iron content of the dirt it sits on. In the background you see dry grass and a few barren trees. Maybe some mud huts off in the distance. When you imagine the scene a few years down the road just before the rain falls, make sure you visualize the carcass of an oxen lying to the left of the jug in a poetic representation of the infertility of the land.
Next to the jug is a pile of dirt. The dirt used to be in the jug, but you can tell it was poured out recently because it hasn’t been blown away by the dry wind. A thin layer of dust covers the jug due to a lack of use. That makes sense though because no one uses water jugs when there’s no water to fill the jug. So instead, dirt ended up where water should have been. Not that the jug would have been useless. A jug with dirt in it can do things like weigh down a corner of a tarp you spread to figure out how many root vegetables you have so you can properly ration your food. Perhaps it weighs down the corner of a tarp that was covering seeds which will be used to grow future crops. Maybe not the most noble of things a jug has been used for, but it serves a purpose for a time.
Back to the jug - it knows it’s a water jug. But it also knows it hasn’t been used for its intended purpose. Sitting around, doing nothing for all those years, the jug could feel the dirt accumulating inside of it. At first, it could feel the dirt mix with the few drops left in the corner seam (you know how you can never get all of the water out of a container because of the mysterious anti-gravitational field in the corners that hold those last few drops of water. No matter how hard you shake the jug, the water never drops. Or it might, but only when you’re shaking the jug down toward your face to see if the water is moving and you inadvertently smack the jug off your face and then the drop of water hits your eyebrow instead of giving you the time to move your mouth in front of the opening. That bit of water). The little bit of mud kind of squished around a bit. Mud feels a bit like water, but as it gets thicker it’s not quite the same.
Then the jug got really hot in the sun. The water evaporated from the mud (now dirt) and condenses on the upper inside part of the jug (also a place where you can never get the water to drop from). Then the water evaporates completely. Bits of dust are blown through the opening. A dung beetle (it has to be a dung beetle or some other kind of insect with a strange looking exoskeleton) makes its way into the jug as well. It might die in there and start decaying, or it might just crawl out (depending on how desolate you want the picture to be).
Some kid just came along and put a couple handfuls of dirt and small pebbles in the jug for kicks. Out of the picture kid!
What was I saying? Oh yeah, I’m a jug. I’ve been going to a small group that is based on a 12 step program. It’s for anyone really, not just people who smoke oregano or who have become ax murderers. So I thought I would see what it was going to be like and stuck around. We’re a bunch of jugs that sit around an empty field. Some jugs have a bit of mud in them from leftover water. Other jugs are so full of dirt your dad (your dad from before you realized he was a human being and had limitations and couldn’t beat your friends’ dads at everything just ‘cause) couldn’t even lift it.
It has been an interesting few months. A couple months ago I was a water jug with some dirt in it. Not a lot of dirt (at least not from the jugs perspective), and I didn’t think the dirt was that bad. The dirt inside the jug wasn’t hurting anyone, and didn’t have any bad chemicals leeching in either. And from the outside, it still looked like a water jug (a rather strong and useful jug if you ask me). But it was still full of dirt, not water. It knocked itself over and some of the dirt came out. Thankfully, some really old guy wearing leather strapped sandals, billowing robe, turban, and using a gnarly staff came along and dumped the rest of the dirt out.
The jug likes not being filled with dirt. You see the grains of sand and pebbles were scratching the jug as the wind whipped around. The plastic was scored where it used to be smooth. And the giant seam that was there from the time it was made was just getting more pronounced. The jug hurt, and wanted to be clean and useful. The jug’s purpose (carrying and pouring out water) wasn’t being fulfilled. Right now, the jug is waiting for that old man with the gnarly staff to come back and wipe off the layer of dirt and dust from the outside. And when it rains, that old man is going to rinse out the jug so it’s clean and then fill the jug with clean water. Or maybe the old man has been digging a cistern that he’ll be able to get water from to clean the jug and then fill it.
The jug knows that even though the jug is going to be clean it’ll still have those grooves from the dirt and pebbles. The people who get the water from the jug won’t care much about those though. They might see a few gouges which may look unattractive at first glance. But then they’ll realize those grooves allow those jugs to carry more water because the water fills the grooves.
In fact, the other jugs lying around that have even more scars will be even more precious to the people because those will be the old favourite jugs. Certain people will know how those jugs got their scars because they were the ones who dragged the jugs over sharp rocks. The jugs may even hear someone say “that’s not a groove, it’s a hole!” And the jugs might feel sorry for themselves. They might think they aren’t useful any more. But then that old man with the gnarly staff is going to pick them up and patch them up. The patch is going to be really obvious because it has to be bigger than the hole. The jug might even feel a bit of pain when the old man with the gnarly stick melts the extra thick plastic around the hole. It might even feel self conscious with that giant patch there. But the jug will be fixed, and will be filled with water again.
The jug knows the dirt is in a little pile, but the wind has begun to pick up, scattering grains of sand into the wind. The jug will know that it made the pile of dirt. And the dirt might always be in a pile. But the wind will keep blowing the dirt around so only a small lump will be left. The old man with the gnarly stick might even kick most of the dirt away leaving a divot instead of dirt. The important part is that the dirt isn’t inside the jug.
The jug is still feeling empty, but I’m looking forward to being filled with water.