While walking the dogs this morning I thought this through. Prior to coming back into the Army in 1975 I worked on a movie, Birch Interval, which ironically asks questions about madness, community responsibility, and moral judgment. No clear answers are given, other than the fragility of friendship and trust, and the imprecise definition of right and wrong in human affairs. It had Rip Torn and Eddie Albert among others.
During the filming there were three or four shots taken in and around an old sawmill. The mill hadn’t run in over twenty years. Inside there were axles and some gears, but large leather belts drove most of the shafts. They were of varying lengths, ten to thirty feet in length and about a foot in width. There were circular saw blades about five feet in diameter, and you could just picture the villain tying down the heroin. The mill appeared to be in fine shape. As nature would have it, you leave me some spare time around something neat like a full size saw mill and I would try to figure out how it works. It was easy to figure out the water flowed from the storage pond along a wooden sluice over the top of a thirty foot diameter steel water wheel to the point where it fell onto the wheel and the weight held in the buckets on that side would operate the wheel. Too bad it didn’t work, cause it would be great fun to see the thing actually operate. But me being the mature responsible non-inquisitive type I left it alone. NOT!!!!
There were several small wooden gates in slots along the sluice that appeared to be for regulating the water flow. The “on, off” switch were three boards that were forming a four foot dam or gate across the mouth of the sluice to prevent the water from the pond from entering the sluice. They were held in place by the water pressure. From the amount of moss growing on the boards it was apparent that they hadn’t been moved in a long time.
Using a piece of Oak from one of the many perfect stacks of lumber left from the last run of the mill I started to pry the top board of the dam away from the mouth of the sluice. Everyone’s, people are attracted to mischief, anticipation grew as the trickle of water started it’s run down the old dry sluice. As the water fell over the wheel it creaked and slowly started to turn. In a very short time it became apparent why they shut down the mill. The main bearing that supported the wheel was broken and allowed the axle to wobble and bang against the sides of the bearing housing. This made a very loud banging and rumbling sound. You had to shout to be heard. We quickly ran inside and an old timer who had been watching this from across the road came over and showed us how to move belts onto the drive portion of the axles and in a couple of minutes we got the thing running. The noise was deafening and the building was shaking so we went to shut it off. Well, after a few minutes we had the board back in place. It took a few minutes for the water to empty out of the sluice, and a couple minutes more for the heavy metal wheel to coast to a stop. The thing still worked. With some effort it could easily be back in service.
You don’t have to blow up the dam. Just let a little flow start and the real you will come to life. Sure it’s scary. What if you can’t shut it off? What if someone sees what you are trying to do? Will they come over to help? Or will they chastise you for starting something that is better left alone?
I believe each of us is brought on this earth for a reason. Of all the things I’ve experienced, love appears to be that reason. I don’t understand it. But now I don’t have to understand it. I just have to be sure that I am not blocking my sluice. The wheel doesn’t care that there has been a record drought. It doesn’t care that the sluice was badly damaged. It doesn’t judge the water for purity that falls in its buckets. It is its nature to turn when water falls onto it. It is our nature to love. We are taught how to stop the flow. We will go to great lengths to keep that wheel from turning. We can kill this for sure. We are running out of chances to love, and truly be loved, maybe for the first time.