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Be water, my friend


“Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water…. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” The image that comes to mind when I think of this quote from Bruce Lee is that of a river rapid.  Of water gushing downstream, gurgling and foaming as it navigates around the rocks.  Strong and powerful but also smooth and gentle.  There was a time when I was lost and felt as if I were rushing down a river without a paddle, without even a boat.  I bounced from rock to rock, scraping and bruising all the way.  From the bank, people watched.  I cried for help and they answered, “We will cheer you on from the shore.”  I felt alone and I was angry at the water that hurried me along.  I resented the rocks.  The tree branches on the shore were too far to grab.  Then I remembered to sit in the rapids with my feet in front of me to push away from the rocks.  I joined with the flow of the river and gently bounced off obstacles in my path.  I was in control, not of the water of course, but of my journey.  Rocks and obstacles remained but I was able to propel myself away from them as I touched them with the soles of my athletic shoes.  I became one with the water as I adapted my body in order to work with it.  I reached a beautiful still stretch of the river and turned over onto my back to float.  I rested and no longer yearned for shore.  I’m not sure I could ever be as powerful, as soft, as refreshing, as useful as water.  It is enough to let it be a friend.

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