Be Water, My Friend
Finding balance thanks to Bruce Lee’s analogy
Water is balance. That’s why Bruce Lee’s “be water” analogy is popular to this day. His metaphor captures the balance we all need in our lives.
Water doesn’t look left or right. It just makes its way however it can. It adapts, but it always perseveres. Even at rest, water still slowly eats away at its surroundings. In Striking Thoughts, Lee expanded on the short recorded clip:
Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.
Water is a slow judge. It asks: “What shape do I need to be?” It conforms to whatever it’s in touch with, one drop at a time. However, you can only ask that question if you come to any situation with an empty mind.
Empty your mind. Be formless. Shapeless. Like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow, or it can crash.
Despite having no form on its own, despite being infinitely soft, water is one of, if not the strongest element on earth. It can trickle, it can flow, or it can rage. If water drops on a stone long enough, it’ll hollow it out. If water forms a wave the size of a skyscraper, it can crush an entire ship. Water does whatever it needs to do to keep moving forward.
Water may seem to move in contradiction, even uphill, but it chooses any way open to it so that it may reach the sea. It may flow swiftly or it may flow slowly, but its purpose is inexorable, its destiny sure. Be water, my friend.
Thanks to its never-ending balancing act, water always finds its way back home. Sooner or later, it will reach the sea. You too should keep flowing. Have plans, but don’t force them on life.
Life is unpredictable. Sometimes, it throws stones in your way. Sometimes, a new door opens up. When you’re water, you’re ready for either one of the two. Whatever happens tomorrow, you’ll adapt.
When the universe says “Yes,” go. Flow downhill. Move fast. Leap. Ride the momentum, take the opportunity, and make the most of your advantage.
When the universe says “No,” listen. Take a different path. Adjust. Persist slowly instead of failing spectacularly.
When a crisis hits, summon your strength. Form a towering wave. And when the sea is calm, enjoy the cruise and take in the view.
When you’re water, you’re always exactly where you’re meant to be.
Be water, my friend.