It’s Just Water – Reflecting on What We Can and Cannot Control in Our Lives

Alaska, being one of the two states not in the continental US, holds a mysterious vibe in the eyes of many, which is exactly why a reporter from Brooklyn went on a trip to Alaska to observe the locals. The overall goal of the trip was to see how (if at all) different the people acted in comparison to residents of the other 49 states.  He spent a few weeks observing their behavior, speaking with locals to learn more about the beautiful state, and immersing himself in the culture.  He spent one of his days in the rain, walking around with an umbrella (like a normal person would). But he was the only one. The locals were walking around in the pouring rain with no umbrellas, and a general disregard for the fact that it was raining so heavily.  As you can imagine, the reporter was astonished by this and had to ask one of them why they weren’t using an umbrella.  The man he approached had such a simple response to the question that ended up being so profound.  When asked why he wasn’t carrying an umbrella, he nonchalantly responded with the phrase, “it’s just water” and kept walking.

At this point, you’re probably wondering why you should care about his response, or why I’m saying it’s so profound.  We can’t control the rain (or the weather in general) which is why we shouldn’t worry about it. I’m not saying you can’t use an umbrella; that’s just silly, the rain would ruin our phones! But this experience helps shape the idea of not worrying about what you can’t control.  When we see that it is raining, we think any of the following: my plans are ruined, I can’t go outside anymore, it’s miserable out, and so on. But, quite literally it is just water; it will stop, and if you are caught in it, you will dry.  When sharing this story, the reporter shared his deeper interpretation of the phrase “it’s just water”.

There’s plenty we can control about our daily lives, but there’s an equal amount we cannot control; we should not worry about what we cannot control.  Those variables we cannot control are what we’re going to call ‘water’, it’s going to stop and it’s going to dry.

If you have two more minutes to spare, try completing the following exercise to find what your ‘just water’ is.
  • Take a piece of paper and fold it in half.
  • Label one side “Things I Can Control” and label the other side “Water”
  • Now think about everything that has been occupying your mind lately
    • As things come up, categorize them, and write them down accordingly.
  • Once you’re done, tear the paper along the fold you made.
    • Now crumble up the “water” half and throw it out.

Here’s how mine looked before I ripped it.

My list of what I consider my own 'It's just water'

Do yourself a favor and focus on what you can control. Don’t pay attention to the ‘water’ around you as it’ll only distract you.  I made the following image my background; it’s very simple but it’s a constant reminder to stay focused on the items that you can control in your life and not get caught up in the little things that weigh heavy on my conscience.  Save it, send it, do what you want with it, but keep it in mind.

Taking the effort from focusing on the things that you cannot change and redirecting that effort towards the items that you have capacity to change will without a doubt, affect your life in a positive way.  Not only will happiness come from this redirection, but you will most likely see the items on the water side start dwindling away, realizing that the things you cannot change need not take up so much space in your life.

It's just water background image



I lose focus pretty easily, probably because there are so many things that interest me. I want to do everything, see everything, go everywhere, and meet everyone. But, we all know that's not possible (so we're told). What I can do, however is share what I experience. I try my best to stay positive, but more importantly I try to spread the good vibes to everyone around me. I'm just like you. I just choose to talk about it ...

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