Life is moving at a fast pace. That is something we have all acknowledged at one time or another with all the events that are swirling around in our lives each and every day. We get pulled from one “big event” to the next whether that be an important test or exam to study for, a paper to write for a class, a team project that is coming close to being due, an interview that is schedule for a new job, going to the movies with friends over the weekend, etc. When there are so many events happening in our lives, there is bound to be stress that builds up. We get nervous before the test and worry about if we are going to remember the facts I studied before. I get scared before the interview and wonder what kinds of questions they will ask me and whether or not I will be able to answer them properly, so that I can look good.

Stress, tension, anxiety, all these feelings are those that get in the way of our daily experience of life. We might see it’s not so much that we live life, but life just has a way of happening and we’re along with the ride. I’ve written previously about Flow Psychology, and those times when it seems that we become an active participant in how life unfolds. You feel like you’re in the zone, you’re just on, you can’t really explain it, but it feels really good when it happens. Have you ever found yourself saying those things, particularly after you had a time you needed to perform?

When we’re under the influence of stress, tension, anxiety, etc., it upsets the balance of that optimal state. Maybe we’re trying just a little too hard, we’re too tense. So what can we do to try to stay centered, balanced, so that even in the most turbulent times, we can still be aware and have a feeling of control?

If you have followed the Lake Greeley Camp Facebook page, you would have noticed several posts that featured quotes from Bruce Lee, the venerable martial artist, who seemed to tackle life on his own standards rather than life dictating its whims onto him. Bruce Lee, in my opinion, was a remarkable person, not just because of his martial arts skill, but due to his mindset, his philosophy and approach regarding life and what you can do with the time you have here.

For example, there was a story from a gentleman who would run with Mr. Lee in the morning. This gentleman was running three miles in the morning, but on one particular day, Mr. Lee approached him and said that they were going to do five that day. That, right there, would be a game changer for most. Going from running three miles and bumping that up to five is no easy task. So much for the gradual distance increase. The man agrees to do it, however. They get to three miles in the run, and the man says that he cannot go further, and could very well have a heart attack and die. Mr. Lee says to him, “Then die.” The man, upon hearing that statement, mustered his strength and finished the five miles. However, the man was angry that Mr. Lee would say such a thing to a supposed friend. When he asked Mr. Lee why he had said that, Bruce replied, “Because you might as well be.” He, then, went on to say that if you begin putting limits on yourself, it will spread to other areas of your life and you will decrease what you are capable of doing simply because you limit yourself.

Now, I hope you can see why I loved quoting Bruce Lee so much on the facebook page. What an incredible way of thinking and, yet, when you reflect on it, doesn’t it give you a sense of empowerment. A sense of renewed belief that you CAN do what you set out to do.

This particular writing is not a focus on that story, though. The subject is one that you can find in a video interview that Bruce Lee did on the Pierre Burton Show in 1971. The clip below is only to highlight the message I want to reflect on, but the whole interview can be very informative if you wish to watch the whole length. In the clip below, Bruce Lee describes how a person must be formless and like water. What does that mean? It could mean many an item in its philosophical sense, but for this writing, I believe that Mr. Lee is trying to convey that people are able to adapt to anything, any situation, like the state that water is in at any given time. It is a state in which, although your environment changes, you, yourself, do not. You remain in that calm state. Watch the clip below to see for yourself:

This concept has found its way into other mediums as well, into other ways of expressing this very interesting point. Below, you’ll see another video clip, this one coming from Cowboy Bebop which was an Animated Series developed in Japan in 1998, making its way to the U.S. in 2001. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “What am I going to learn from watching a cartoon?” The clip below is important because it attempts to put into practice Bruce Lee’s water philosophy. Seeing the characters interact, and listening to how the main character Spike explains the situation may provide a better explanation to help you understand.

Water can flow; water can crash. It’s properties can change in an instant to adapt. Mr. Lee’s philosophies were not just for those who are martial arts minded. Instead, like the water philosophy, it is a way of saying that we are capable of far more than we give ourselves credit. We are able to push those extra couple miles, we are to lift those few extra pounds because we are able to break past boundaries that we believe exist. Instead of allowing life to dictate our actions, emotions, our state of mind, we can become like water, shapeless, able to adapt to the situation as it presents itself. It truly is an incredible mental state, and one with which, nothing feels out of the realm of possible. As Bruce Lee believed, the treasure is not just completing a goal, the true benefit is when you push that little bit more; just giving a little bit more effort than you thought you had. You are then able to accomplish great things, and possibly the best part is that these accomplishments can become common place, but only if you adapt the mindset for it to be so.

Be water, my friends.

By Matt Buynak Jr. (11/25/2014)


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