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)