In English, the phrase “water under the bridge” refers to “events or situations that are in the past and consequently no longer to be regarded as important or as a source of concern.” (I suppose the impossibility of identifying the individual droplets contributed by one’s specific past out of the vast, singular entity of water coming and going provides an apt distinction from elements “swept under the rug,” which are not fully dealt with and can come back to haunt the person anytime.) In this metaphor, the water is below us.
In Chinese, an equivalent expression is “clouds and mist that pass the eye” (過眼雲煙，guò yǎn yún yān), referring to things that are fleeting. It can apply to past events that felt significant when experienced, or in a more fabled tone, to fickle glories like fame and fortune. In this analog, the water is high above us.
Either way, it’s passing us by.
In my quest for juicier perfumes after a stint of powdery ones, I have indulged Diptyque L’Ombre dans L’Eau EDP (I have not yet tried the original EDT). It’s a blast of green with tenacity, all fresh leaves and stems that are piled on, not discarded after picking the berries and roses for this bouquet. The mossiness allows this fragrance to retain its wateriness in full, without the usual connotations of marine notes. The fact that I appreciated this olfactory “water retention” while temporarily forgetting the name of the perfume should be a testament to how well this is done. Otherwise, L’Ombre dans L’Eau gives a generous dose of bold blackcurrant and beautiful rose, which lose the green facets by the time they settle into a voluptuous drydown in fabric.
A similar tart, awakening, glorious berry note is highlighted in the Boujee Bougie candle Queen Jam, with raspberries, bilberries, and rose emitting a stronger cold throw than some of the others. It enhances my desk and makes me want to try its namesake Scandinavian confection.
Water takes many forms, as does language. In any case, it is vital, yet impermanent. Water must flow, as change must occur. Conversely, when circumstances appear rigid and impenetrable, it is we who must become fluid, to pass them by.
‘Cause I’m Aquarius…Metronomy, “I’m Aquarius” (2013)
3 thoughts on “The many facets of water”
Your last statement (not the quotation) somehow in my head transformed into “If you wait by the river long enough…” 🙂
It is interesting trying to find equivalents in different languages. In Russian, for example, the most neutral phrase that means the same as “water under the bridge” is a very simple construction that, literally, is the past tense of the famous “que sera, sera” – namely, “whatever was, was” (“что было, то было”). The phrase that uses water analogy for a similar meaning has a connotation of a regret “it was but has drifted away” (“было да сплыло”). And the closest in the tone is a colloquial phrase that uses a single word – a verb in the present perfect tense that means to ride/be transported – “we’ve ridden that over/we’ve passed that” (“Проехали!”). Though, if I were to translate it back into English again, I would have probably used something like “Bygones” (if you watched Ally McBeal, you’ll know exactly what I mean).
OK, now when I wrote almost another post on language use in my comment :), I want to mention L’Ombre dans L’Eau. I should have liked it (I like black currant in perfumes), but for whatever reason I always was “just fine” with it. And it reminded me of YSL Babydoll that I used to like 15+ years ago but then either got over it or didn’t like the latest reformulation of it. Or both.
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I am always fascinated by the different perspectives that accompany languages! I suppose in English the present tense encompasses the past in the stoic “It is what it is.”
In “Wintering,” Katherine May mentions a New Year’s mantra she has adopted: “We have turned the year.”
I never watched Ally McBeal, but I remember the teasers coming on TV.
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Loved the first couple of seasons of the show.