By Chris Jones
I recently watched an ESPN+ 30 for 30 documentary on Bruce Lee. If there was ever a man who persevered through challenges without losing his edge, it is he. In his most famous philosophical quote, there are nuggets of wisdom we should heed:
“Be Water, My Friend.
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 into a teapot, it becomes the teapot.
Now water can flow or it can crash.
Be water, my friend.”
I like this quote because it’s a reminder that external circumstances can’t affect us if we refuse to be influenced by them. The water is unaffected by the cup, the bottle or the teapot. It maintains its own integrity and integrates with its new environment—and we would be wise to do the same.
As we leave 2020 behind, some of its remnants will remain, and we don’t know for how long. What we can do is flow through it. It’s taken me the entire year to adjust to virtual schooling, hybrid schooling, less privacy at home and grocery and household bills that would make my spendthrift father cry.
I resisted change for months on end and reaped the consequences—depression, frustration, anger, resentment. I lamented over how home and work used to be (blasted pandemic!). Once I resigned myself to flow through the circumstances, things changed. Not that I don’t have challenging days, I do, but it is to say those are the exception and not the rule. And I had to learn to take my own advice. I tell my kids, “Be a thermometer and not a thermostat. You control your temperature. Don’t reflect the temperature around you.” It’s true of peer pressure and living in a pandemic.
Let’s keep this in mind as we adjust to a different holiday season devoid of our most treasured traditions. We don’t have to like it, but we have to choose our response. Acceptance isn’t a concession. Wisely navigating change is the route to freedom.
I wish you a happy and safe holiday season and a cheerful New Year. I hope you and your family can enter 2021 with optimism and hope. But above all else, remember: Be water, my friend.