Betsy Damon: The Meaning of Life… the miracle of water

Excellence Reporter: Betsy, what is the meaning of life?

Betsy Damon: If life is a miracle, then the meaning of life is to be in the miracle: Alive, awake and aware. If you see someone who needs a helping hand, help them. If you have an extra piece of bread, share it. Do not take more than your fair share. And live lightly so that all can thrive.

Beginning in 1985 water became my teacher. Water is an alive, living, breathing, conscious substance that pulses. Waters creates our alive, pulsing world. From microbes to whales, all living things pulse. That steady beat of your heart, that pulse of life, is 100% dependent on the pulse of water.

Simply stated, water’s pulse is created by H₂O’s extra hydrogen molecule darting around, seeking to connect. In the human body, this rapid movement creates a tiny electrical current. When this pulse can travel uninhibited through your body, you have energy and health. This current is similar in all life.

Watch a river as it moves, forming swirls and vortices and patterns—all of which are created by this pulse. Dams can reduce a river’s ability to pulse. Removing a dam can allow a river’s living systems to return and flourish at an astonishing rate. An ecosystem is alive when its water can support a dynamic pulse.

Water systems contain pulses large and small. Some pulses on this earth are regulated by massive systems like the Amazon Rainforest, the Chesapeake Bay Estuary, and the ocean currents. When these systems are disrupted, all life forms—including people—feel the effects in their bodies. We have not kept this basic truth in mind as we’ve created large interventions in the natural landscape.

We see water’s miracles everywhere. A drop dangling off a leaf is testament to the incredible strength of water to create and hold form. When water is polluted, it can no longer hold a proper form and becomes too weak to facilitate healthy life. It loses its pulse.

Water has allowed us to develop and thrive, to coexist with billions of species whose hearts beat with ours.

Ancient Chinese texts proclaim that “Water is love”. Let us recognize that we are all inseparable from water, and love accordingly.


~For forty years, Betsy Damon has been carving a unique path through the worlds of environmental activism, community organizing, science, and art. Beginning with gritty performances on the New York City streets, she was engaged in the women’s movement of the 1970s, when she founded No Limits for Women Artists. Damon then shifted her focus toward water: in The Memory of Clean Water, Damon created a 250-foot cast of a dry riverbed, drawing attention to development’s invisible destruction of water sources.

In 1991, Damon founded Keepers of the Waters, an organization that creates community-based models of water stewardship. Damon’s work includes sculpture, teaching, lectures and workshops. She created China’s first public art event for the environment: the Living Water Garden, a world-renowned public park and natural water filtration model. In the U.S., she continues to work with communities and grassroots groups, and complements her environmental advocacy with art and design commissions.

Damon draws her inspiration from extensive research of sacred water sites, along with her curiosity for the sciences that compose living systems. Damon is constantly seeking new ways to articulate the complexity of water and engage with communities to protect this precious resource.

Copyright © 2019 Excellence Reporter

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.