The Power of the Waterfall

Nov 18, 2019 | West Lexington

By Tim Scifres

I was fortunate enough this summer to visit Toronto for the annual Mathnasium Convention.  As wonderful as the convention was, the highlight of the trip for me was visiting Niagara Falls on the way home from the Convention.  My first visit to this incredible place did not disappoint in any way; it was awe inspiring to watch the power of the water going over the edge of the falls.  It was incredible to be there with my family and to see the reactions of my two daughters, Flora and Lilyana.  Our room in the hotel was on the 27th floor, which gave us a wonderful view of the falls.  We could see the nightly fireworks from our hotel room, until the smoke drifted toward us and blocked the fireworks out.  My suggestion: if you are there to watch the fireworks, go down to ground level to see the whole show!

One of the tours we took was Journey Behind the Falls.  This tour takes you to an observation deck located just a couple of yards from the bottom of the falls.  The power and beauty of seeing so much water so closely was incredible.  Another part of this tour was being able to walk through a tunnel built in the bedrock underneath the falls; this tunnel extends about 150 feet and has a couple of portals where you can see, hear and feel the water falling while standing behind the falls.  There were several displays on the walls of the tunnel giving information all throughout the tunnel.  One story was of the only survivor who unintentionally went over the falls.  In 1960, a seven-year old boy wearing only a t-shirt, shorts, and a life jacket was swept over the falls after being involved in a boating accident.  Our tour guide says this man continues to visit Niagara Falls, but stays away from the water!

When standing in line to ride the boat up towards the falls, we noticed foam floating in the water.  Our guides told us this foam is made up of rock that is being washed away by the water.  The erosion of Niagara Falls is something I had not really considered until being there.  The erosion rate was about 5 feet per year from the mid-1700’s until the mid-1900’s.  Conservation and remedial efforts have reduced the erosion to about a foot each year with goals of reducing this rate even more too about a foot every 10 years.

What has to happen for the water of Niagara Falls to have eroded over 7 MILES of land in the last 12,000 years?  To answer this question there is one main characteristic of the water to think about…the water never stops.  Over thousands of years the only time it has been recorded that Niagara Falls stopped was March 29-31, 1848.  This was due to an ice jam at the mouth of Lake Erie.  There have been times the falls have frozen over, but not completely frozen, and still have water flowing under the surface ice.  The water has kept moving for thousands of years.  Water can only do one thing…move downhill toward an ocean, water has a singular focus and direction it can do nothing else.

Do you want to be more like water?  I would like to be more like the waterfall.  I would like to become a person who never stops in pursuit of goals I have set for myself.  All too often I can be blocked from continuing towards a goal by the smallest of obstacles -water does not do this; it keeps striving to move forward!  Even when Niagara Falls was blocked, the water kept pushing through the dam until the evening of March 31, 1848 when residents heard a rumbling that was drawing closer and getting louder – then, the water was back!  May I be better tomorrow at never stopping, and then even better the next day.  May I develop a persistence that is not concerned with outcomes, but is concerned with doing things the right way and always moving in the right direction.

I know one of the reasons for this desire in me (which is a desire we all have) to reach towards goals is to have the belief of being successful.  However, as I see my girls grow each day, as I see my students at school and Mathnasium grow each day, I want to be more like a waterfall for them.  Kids need to see others in their lives who refuse to stop, in spite of circumstances not being ideal all the time.  Kids need to see others in their lives who have been stopped, but did not quit or give up.  Kids need to see others in their lives who are intentionally living above the circumstances and obstacles set before them because the process of moving forward is not going to be deterred by those circumstances and obstacles.  Kids need to be taught that we do the right thing and move in the right direction, not because we want to change other people, but because our right thing and our right direction is all we can control (as water only can flow towards the ocean).  Our students need to be taught how to keep the mindset of always moving forward and eroding the obstacles in their lives. 

At Mathnasium, we see many students who are convinced that math is an unmovable obstacle, a huge rock.  They see math as a dam that has stopped their progress and is not allowing them to move forward.  Many of our students believe they have gone about as far as they can go in their math journey.  If you have a student like this, we would love to serve your child and your family by helping give them tools to break apart some seemingly invincible obstacles.  It would be our pleasure to show your child they can be like the waterfall and overcome any obstacle in their way.   Give us a call at (859) 219-0001 and let us find a time for you to bring your child in for a complimentary assessment as the first step in changing their life by eroding this “rock” of math.  Let us work with you to give your child tools to accomplish more than they have ever imagined they could;  like a waterfall eating away over seven miles of rock!