“Be Like Water, My Friend…”– Bruce Lee
Water is essential to life. There’s no question. But water has the potential to create or destroy. Of this, there is also no question. Bruce Lee is famously known for including the concept to “be like water” in his teachings. And for good reason. The concept behind this is an important one in the martial arts. Fluidity of movement and adapting any given scenario without necessarily being stuck to any one system or style is what I always felt Lee was getting at when he referred to this.
I think my favourite version of this, was said by Jason Scott Lee when he starred as Bruce Lee (believe it or not, there’s no relation) in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story in 1993. Lee explains how in order to study the martial arts a practitioner has to “be like the nature of water.” He explains that water will take any form, fill any container. Water is the softest stuff on Earth, but it can penetrate rock… Yeah… About that last one…
Enter: last Thursday night. I was sitting in my small basement office, researching and typing away and searching for jobs. Sometime late in the evening, beyond the 10pm hour, a thunder storm rolled in and thunder was audible in the basement. For whatever reason, Nathan becomes skittish and frightened when there’s thunder so I went upstairs to find him standing on his bed looking out the window. I could tell he was apprehensive, so I offered to build him a blanket fort in the downstairs office so he could go to sleep and have me nearby. He eagerly agreed.
Torrential rain fell for well over an hour and just past the 11pm hour, my wife came down to check on us and confirm that I had closed up our garage (which I had). As we stepped out of the office together and walked towards the stairs, we could see a difference in colour on our basement floor and turned on some lights. We found that the floor at our west wall was soaked with water. Our baseboards had warped and at least a half dozen cardboard boxes we had in storage had soaked up a heavy amount of rain water.
Our foundation was very obviously leaking, and we worked quickly to try and move as many things out of the line of water as we could. Just to be clear, it wasn’t pouring water in like a sieve, but water was seeping in enough to have a visible wetness on the tile floor in the storage room and to soak about two feet of carpet from the wall, all along the western edge of our house. We emptied out our boxes and found that several books had been damaged/ruined in the incident and that many other items were in need of drying off.
It was late at night, and I had consumed a couple of glasses of red wine at this point and was ready for bed. Nothing snaps you out of it quite like a threatening incident against your home. I was at a loss. There was no way to stop the rain and certainly no way to repair the foundation in such a way that it would stop the further propagation of water during the night. We did the best we could in moving everything away from the damaged wall and called it a night.
I’ve often written that foundation is everything. Your foundation is basis for everything that it holds up and that if your foundation is weak, your structure can be the strongest in the world but will still falter, in time. In writing about that concept, I’ve usually been referring to the martial arts. But the joke is that I was now exposed to a real-life example of how this is true. The foundation of my home is now weakened and compromised and it threatens the safety of my home as a whole.
I contacted our insurance company the following day to report the incident. I was provided good, friendly service by the lady I was speaking to and was scheduled to have an adjuster/investigator come assess the damages to see if our insurance would cover costs of repairs. I asked several questions, one of which was whether or not the foundation would be repaired in order to prevent such a thing from happening again. The response was that all of the foundations in our city were subject to cracking and shifting because of the nature of our soil, and that insurance wouldn’t cover anything related to our foundation due to it being a “naturally occurring event that happens over time.”
I was understandably upset and asked her what, exactly, that she expected would be repaired for us if not the actual source of the problem. She explained that they would replace our baseboard and walls, as well as pull up the carpet, clean and replace the flooring as necessary. So basically, they’d be looking at replacing our 1969 orange carpet and wooden clapboard, which we were planning on renovating anyway. But they fully intended on leaving the foundation damaged.
It’s a prime example of how the almighty dollar rules modern society. When we purchased our home, we were forced to obtain home owner’s insurance in order to be approved for a mortgage. I don’t know if this is the same everywhere, but it was certainly the case through my bank. But despite being forced to get it and paying thousands a year in premiums, they don’t seem keen on covering the aspects of one’s home that can actually become an issue. Not to mention the $1,000 deductible that I would have to pay.
The lady also advised me that moving forward with a claim would eliminate my “claims-free” status and that my yearly premium would be increased by 15% for the next three years. I was polite enough not to swear at her over the phone, but I have to admit that I’ve never wanted to get rid of a home so badly in my life. I think we may be shopping around for a closer and better insurance company in the near future. In the meantime, my wife and I need to start the arduous task of taking our basement apart and starting repairs on our own. And we’ll likely have to repair our foundation at our own cost. Ah, home ownership…
Like I said, this is a real life example of how water can be just as destructive to us as it is necessary. Even if one were to assume that a concrete wall should be able to hold water at bay, my home is proof that water will eventually erode any surface and find its way through. This should be a good lesson for the importance of tenacity and commitment. But at the moment, it’s really just something that’s testing the upper limits of my calm. ☯