The Story of the Water Droplets
by Enrique Guerra-Pujol
Whenever my wife and I return to Jamaica to visit our family and friends, we like to begin our day by waking up early to see the sunrise and walking on the beach. As the soft sun appears above the horizon, I will wade into the warm tropical waters and perform a peculiar and private ritual. In brief, I lunge into the gentle waves, clasp together the palms of my hands, and splash the ocean waters as high as I possibly can.
This motion produces hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of tiny water droplets, flying every which way. Each airborne droplet sparkles under the rising Caribbean sun, yet the duration of this chaotic ballet of droplets is but short- lived. This transitory constellation of water droplets falls back into ocean in the blink of an eye.
I confess that I never tired of performing this strange aquatic sacrament. But why?
Perhaps the ephemeral droplets are a poetic reminder of my mortality, for on a geological time scale, the life of one man is like the lifespan of a single, fleeting droplet.
In the alternative, maybe I am attracted to the unruly geometry of the airborne droplets, for with each splash of the waters, I produce a unique and inimitable choreography of dancing droplets.
Or perhaps the flying droplets are a collective symbol of the inherent limitations of our knowledge, for just as I am unable to take a precise census of the innumerable droplets, we may never be able to fully understand the unceasing dynamics of human conflict and the role of law in promoting cooperation.
But, often times, knowing our limitations is a good place to start. I may not be able to count the entire constellation of droplets at any one time, but perhaps, by narrowing my gaze to one droplet, I could develop a simple and testable model to find an approximate measure of her trajectory and lifespan.
There is no moral to this story. It’s just about one man’s sense wonderment amid the beauty of the water droplets.
Enrique Guerra-Pujol is a law professor, an indiscriminate reader, and a struggling writer. His main areas of research are the evolution of conflict and cooperation and the application of Bayes’ Rule and other mathematical ideas to law. In addition, his extracurricular interests include bird-watching, rafting, star-gazing, and the arts, especially literature and the cinema.
17 responses to “Honorable Mention: “The Story of the Water Droplets””
Thanks for including my story
Thank you for sending it in, Enrique!
Super story — makes me see and think. Great combination.
Thanks for reading!
I can smell the sea.
Maybe you appreciate ‘A drop of Water, by Walter Wick’ too?
I looked it up, Paula. It looks good!
“Perhaps the ephemeral droplets are a poetic reminder of my mortality, for on a geological time scale, the life of one man is like the lifespan of a single, fleeting droplet…” You had me at this line! So beautifully written.
Ah, yes, that is a beautiful line!
Wonderful essay … thoughtful and thought-provoking. All the many ways to interpret the droplets. What a wonderful ritual, and beautifully written.
Thank you so much for reading this beautiful essay! I’m so glad we got such lovely pieces for the contest!
Indeed you did! It’s treat to read creative nonfiction 🙂
Reblogged this on prior probability and commented:
prior probability is reblogging our “Story of the Water Droplets,” which won an honorable mention from The Writer Site, an award-winning blog whose mission is to help writers write. Our short story is less than 400 words, it describes our sense of wonderment and our approach to knowledge.
To me the water droplets represent controlled chaos. While that may sound like an oxymoron the truth is that it is what we practice every day with the rules of law. There are extreme limits to our control over the actions of man. The splash creates an affect, but truthfully you can never perfectly replicate that effect. The trajectory of every water molecule will be slightly different than the time you did it before. We may think that instituting laws will drive society to act a certain way, but we can never fully know how individuals will respond and how they will evolve. Yet we continue, because it is this chaos, this chain reaction that we set into motion that makes life so engaging and rewarding. Or maybe I’m just crazy… I’ve never ruled that one out 🙂
Nathaniel, beautifully put! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!
Reblogged this on Gabbie Blog.