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By Laurence J. Sasso, Jr.
It may not be obvious at first, but the principles of hydraulics are a near perfect analogy for how love works.
Whether you have a tank full of water or a heart full of love, it has to get in and it has to get out. In the case of water it comes in from an outside source, a well, a reservoir, a pipeline. Love on the other hand comes from within (though it can be augmented if we get enough of it from others).
Let’s stick to the similarities, though. When the pressure in the receptacle is sufficient, both water and love want to escape. They need to get out. Here’s one place where hydraulics can explain a lot. The size of the opening through which water exits (or is directed) determines the intensity of the flow. The same applies to love. A narrow outlet results in high pressure; let’s call this kind passionate love. You know, the kind that lays bare the bones of emotion, blows away the emotional cobwebs and incidental dust of detachment and reserve. Impressive and awesome, it has to be handled carefully lest it damage the thing it hopes to saturate. Hard to harness, hard to control, it is awesome, and it is dangerous.
A larger diffusion outlet, a wide, wide valve, provides for slower, gentler release. It results in a soft flood, the sort of love that laps over and soaks everything it touches.
Less forceful, it is more engulfing, the kind of love we feel for family. Like an entrenched lawn sprinkler system, it can feed multiple dispersal channels: children, parents, siblings, spouses, partners, mentors, friends.
Water systems and love are both subject to difficulties, though. Parts fail, get broken, become clogged, especially those subject to the highest use. If there is a backup, internal damage can occur, leaks develop, and the contents of the holding vessel escape un-bidden.
In the case of love this can be beautiful. A stranger, a waiter, a pastor, a shut-in, a homeless person, or a teacher is suddenly doused with a burst of unexpected platonic affection.
In the instance of water, despite random pretty rainbows shining up from the basement floor, there is less beauty in a leak that happens unforeseen.
Sometimes too much air gets into the system. In a water tank it can make things sluggish or erratic. Rather than a steady stream, there are spurts and gushes and periods of nothing but air. Where love is concerned let’s agree the equivalent of air is too much talk. Instead of a regular flow in which love pours forth naturally, wind comes out instead.
We mustn’t misunderstand the metaphor, though. Air-bound water systems need to be recalibrated. Talk-bound relationships need the same. Water pumps must sometimes be re-primed. Love matches must as well.
One thing above all is certain. Left to sit unused too long, a tank of water runs the risk of becoming unhealthy, contaminated. So it is for love too. Bottled up and unreleased, love can turn into a bitter thing. Knowing how to expertly gauge the proper pressure and release of water makes a plumber wealthy. Knowing the same for love makes for the possibility of a happy life.