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"Y" Is For Yield

“Yield: Give way to arguments, demands or pressure.” Synonyms include “surrender, capitulate, relent, be overcome, and cave in.” This is exactly what happened between the water and the rock at the Reichenbach falls in Switzerland.

Actually, it’s a series of waterfalls in the Swiss Alps with a total drop of 250m. But only one of these captured my attention: The Y. From a small pool nested in pine forest, the stream of water tumbles over the rocky precipice, splashing against another wall on its way to the dark, pebble-filled tarn below. What fascinated me about this cascade was the upside-down Y the water forms as its flow is divided by a hole in the rock against which it bounces on its way down. It seems that, over time, the water has made the rock “give way to its pressure.” The rock literally “surrendered, capitulated, relented, was overcome and caved in” to the water.

This is one of the most spectacular natural phenomena to me: the fact that water can exert such a force on stone, even though it’s actually soft and cool and pleasant when encountered in a placid state. But on this day, i pondered the other side of the story for the first time ever: The rock YIELDS to the water. Why? It’s clearly stronger than water, isn’t it? All continents are founded on rock, not water. Forests and cities and farmland all stand on the layers of the earth formed by rock. It’s the very foundation of our physical lives. So why would it yield to water?

This question still has no clear answer in my mind, but as i've read some articles about water erosion, abrasion emerged as a possible explanation. What happens, is that the stream carries some pebbles or soil with it as it flows, and when it hits against a rock repeatedly, a cavity will start forming over time. The cavity will enlarge and deepen until a channel is opened through which the pebbles can pass, or until the water flow ceases.

So the next thought developed form this one: How can i apply this to life? It seems that water – which is soft, cool and a source of rejuvenation – can exert great force with a combination of gravity, momentum and some small pebbles. Is gravity not comparable to my life’s purpose? Is momentum not a mirror-word for constant forward motion – daily movement towards the fulfillment of our life’s purpose? Are the small pebbles not symbolic of the tools (talents, abilities and skills) we use to accomplish that goal?

If that’s true, then it must be clear to us that, even though we are not super-hero-masters-of-the-universe-ultimate-creatures, we are each one able to make a significant impact on seemingly unmovable, ancient, rock-hard situations in life by finding our purpose and applying our talents, skills and abilities daily towards achieving those goals. Then the rocks will yield to us, the water. We will be able to form extraordinarily beautiful upside-down Y’s somewhere in a distant, ordinary, hidden place, where the rock needed only a little encouragement to create a spectacle out of an ordinary water stream by yielding to the water.

Other articles in this series include:

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