Out of the heart will flow rivers of living water. Words mean things and when I received these words their meaning resonated deeply with me as this is a message that deeply impacted my life when I received these words. You see, I had been going through the motions of my life, just going through each day to just survive. I knew that deep in my heart that there was something so much more to life then what I was currently experiencing. By all the standards, it appeared that I had a life that was fulfilled. I was married, had children, a job, a home, friends but I knew that there was something that was simply missing and I struggled with that missing piece. I knew that in order to live a life that was full, I had to discover just what that missing piece in my life was and pursue it.
In the book the Alchemist, we read about a man named Santiago who is searching for that hidden treasure of life. He travels far to discover that treasure only to realize that the treasure always existed where his journey started. All that was required of him was to realize that which was before him and accept his treasure.
Like Santiago, I too had been on this journey to discover that which I was being called to do in this life. I knew that deep in my heart I had this yearning to create impact into the lives of those that I touched. I knew that in order to create impact, I had to be willing to take a step in a direction that I didn’t know for certain where it would lead but I knew that by not taking that step, I would spend wasted time wondering what if. That what if is regret. Regret is something that I have seen too many people experience in their lives. They lament about the opportunities they had and their unwillingness to take that step. They spend a lifetime in regret wishing they could go back to that point in time and just change everything. However, time does not allow us to do that. Once time has passed, we can never get it back. You see, we have this wonderful gift of time but time can also become our enemy if we allow it. By not taking advantage of our time, we allow each passing moment to remind us that we have failed to do something that we had the opportunity to perform.
One of the blessings that I have had in my life is the ability to travel. I love travel. I love going to new places to explore and learn about different places, different people and different customs. In my travels, I have been able to explore places in 4 different continents. I hope one day to make that 6 and I know that one day I will accomplish that goal. In my travels, I have come to understand that regardless of where someone may reside or the customs they follow, that deep inside we all share the same desires. Each of us desire to know what is the meaning of life and what is piece do I have in this life. My travels have taken me to some of the most extravagant places in this world as well as some of the most impoverished places in this world. Regardless of a persons economic standing in life, they still have these same innate desires regarding life and their place in life.
One of the things that moved me the most during my travels was the realization of the things that I have in my life that I simply take for granted. Something as simple as going into my kitchen, turning on the faucet, putting a glass underneath the faucet and drinking the water that pours from that faucet. I had seen firsthand parts of this world in which running water coming into someone’s home did not exist. I had seen first hand people going to the nearest river, doing their laundry in that river, bathing their children in that river while their farm animals drank from that river and then taking water from that river in a container and taking it back to their home to be the water they would use for that day. It was obvious that this water they would take to their home was not sanitary and could certainly cause disease. I came to realize that over 90% of the diseases in this world are the result of people consuming water that is not clean. Some people may simply ignore those in need and others may beat themselves up with guilt over what they have in life but I understood that if I wanted to impact others, I needed to take action.
I have friends that live in Ethiopia and work in some of the remote parts. I was able to communicate with them the importance that water has upon a rural village. In villages with an inadequate water source, young girls will daily have to walk to the closest stream or river to get the water needed for the daily needs of her family. Some of these young girls are as young and 5. Often times, these young girls need to walk over 2 miles just to get to a water source. Once they have arrived, they may have to dig a pit in the mud to trap some water so that they can fill the jugs they brought that they in turn carry back to their home. It was then that I began to understand that the impact that placing a well within a village could have upon those that resided in the village. I tried to think of ways in which I could create a team of people who would be willing to make a difference for a group of people that we had never met and chance are would never meet in our lives. Out of this desire was birthed an event that was held to attempt to replicate what these young children had to do on a daily basis in order just to obtain a necessity of life, water. The human body can survive for over 40 days without food but our bodies are only able to survive 72 hours without water. Also, consider that if the water is heavily contaminated what this also does to the body, especially the body of a developing child.
Through this initial effort, we were able to fund raise over $6000. The cost to construct a well in the region of Ethiopia where this was to be built was $6000. Once this well was constructed in this village, we were able to learn that the medical clinic that was next to where the well was constructed now had running water and was more able to serve those in the village.
One small dream and one small act was all that it took. We were able to turn that dream into a reality and that reality made a difference in the lives of those that we were able to impact. Since that initial event, we have continued in this project on a yearly basis building additional wells in both Ethiopia and Myanmar. My ultimate dream is to make this a larger movement that involves more people who understand we all can make a difference regardless of where we are.
Allowing a deep but simple phrase caused me to dream and move to action to make a dream a reality. It has been said that the most valuable real estate in all the world are its cemeteries as that is where dreams die once and for all. One thing for certain that I learned during this process was that we are given dreams in our life that need to be acted upon. Acting upon the dreams that we have is the most certain way to ensure that we don’t live a life of regret.