Are You Sitting Down?
September 14, 2023
September 28, 2023

Sources and Sinks

Photo by Ivan Obolensky

A sink, to an engineer, is a body or process that acts to absorb or remove energy from a system. A water drain is an example. Its opposite is a source, a body or process from which energy enters a system like a faucet. Energy flows out from sources and in the direction of sinks.

People, too, can be either sinks or sources. Some seem to absorb the attention and energy of everyone in their vicinity, while others light up a room with just their presence. There are also those who need constant direction, and those who need only general guidance. There are leaders and there are followers, employers and employees, teachers and students, parents and children.

From what I have observed, it is quite possible to be a sink at one point in one’s life and a source in another. What makes one a sink or a source? The answer lies within. Those who have little idea of what they themselves really want and only vague ideas of how to obtain it, tend to become sinks. They drift. Those who know what they want and are willing to do whatever it takes to get there tend to be sources.

From the above, one might infer that being a sink is bad. It isn’t. Nor is being a source always good. For energy to flow, there must be both. If there were only sources, it would be like observing a billion people talking at once with nobody listening. If there are too many sinks, nothing will flow, and scarcity is rampant. There is never enough of anything.

Age has something to do with it. The older one gets, the more time our genetic predispositions have to exert themselves, and one’s gifts, orientations, and preferences become clearer. In the struggle and conflict between genetic inclinations and educational, social, and economic pressures, genetics usually wins out. But as society grows more complex with more constraints and greater economic pressures, many potential sources can’t break free. They gravitate to becoming sinks.

Much of human behavior can be understood by observing those who absorb attention, and those who give it. We all need someone to love as much as we need love from someone other than ourselves. Either flow can get out of balance. To become more of a source, one must discover one’s inner passions and turn up the heat. To become more of a sink, one must tone it down. Sources emit. Sinks absorb.

Life is thought to be held and encapsulated in the breath. It is, and each of us must learn to exhale and inhale to live. One moment we must inhale and be a sink, the next, we must exhale and be a source. The trick, if there is one, is to do both but not at the same time.

Don’t hold your breath about the future. All will turn out well, but only if we remember to breathe. Life will always continue into the future. It’s what it does. It breathes on many levels.

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