A man should be like water
No – I haven’t joined a hippy commune and gone all New Age on you. But…a man should be like water? Bear with me….
Once when I was in Milan, me and the boys went to a restaurant in the Navigli District. The Naviglio Grande canal runs through the area and there is also a large pool of stagnant water.
Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other nasties and without exaggeration, I was almost literally eaten alive. Literally. On the plus side, the food was great and I washed it down with several beers which numbed the pain. But when I woke in the morning, I looked like I was wearing the ‘King of the Mountains’ Tour de France jersey.
Because stagnant water doesn’t move anywhere, it can become an environmental hazard, harbouring malaria and harmful bacteria. It’s also often contaminated with animal and human faeces.
I live in London. The River Thames runs through it. And there are no mosquitoes. I can’t guarantee there’s no bacteria, dead bodies or pieces of shit in there, but cases of malaria in London are few and far between.
Bear with my brothers, this is going somewhere…..
Humans are made up of about 60% water. That means we are predominantly H2O. So a good old water analogy on how to be a man seems like a good way to spend some time.
Bruce Lee once famously advised us to ‘be like water’, saying:
“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”
Water can do all these things. It fills any container – man-made or natural. Yes it can drip and it can crash. But it can also remain in one place and become stagnant.
For us men intent on becoming the best we can be what does this mean? It means we have to think of ourselves as rivers and carry out our lives with the same kind of purpose.
A river can cut through rock: Think of the Grand Canyon – it’s only there today because of the Colorado River. Over millions of years, it has sliced right through the American landscape and left us with one of the most amazing natural phenomenon in the world. Given enough time and persistence, a river can leave a huge impression on the world. And so can you – but you have to keep moving…and keep moving forward
A river always moves forward: By the laws of nature, a river can never run backwards. It flows downhill and never passes the same point twice. Water that flows in that river can never return to its source. So it should be with you – we can’t go back in time and change things. Dwelling on the past and wishing it back is not the way. We move forward. There are times when the flow of the river slows right down and we have the chance to reflect on things and smell the roses. We reflect, but we are still moving forward…with a purpose.
A river has purpose: A river begins life as a trickle of water high up in a mountain somewhere. Pure and fresh. It becomes a stream before becoming a full-on river. It goes through many twists and turns; flows violently and fast; flows gently and slow – and eventually makes its way to the ocean where it joins all other rivers. That is its purpose. Live your life with purpose too. Identify what’s important to you and always move towards it. There will be blockages and diversions on the way but just like a river, you keep going. And you WILL get to where you need to be. Stagnant water can’t do this because it doesn’t go anywhere. Water in canals can’t do this because it has been harnessed and told where to go and when
A canal is not a river: Because Milan has no natural rivers running through it, city officials have been building canals there for almost 1000 years to serve the purposes of the city – irrigation and transportation of goods. The water in those canals is controlled to serve the purposes of those in power. Don’t live your life like water in a canal being told which direction to flow and when to flow and why. Move towards your own purpose and always strive to move towards new experiences that serve your purposes.
Be like water my friend, but….
…don’t be a canal serving a purpose that is not yours
…don’t end up a stagnant pool of water going nowhere and filled full of shit, bacteria and sickness
Be a river – find your purpose and move your life towards that purpose. If there are any obstacles in the way you find a way through or around them
Be like water, live like a river
In nature, rivers inevitably flow to the sea and their purpose. Living a life of Iron Qualities isn’t as straightforward or inevitable. First you need to find your goal – what do YOU want to get out of life. And when you figure it out, live a life of intention with everything flowing towards that end goal.
It’s not easy – there are distractions and many things that will throw you off track. It’s a world of convenience, fast food, deadlines, long working hours, corporate mass media telling you what to think/feel/do. Using the water analogy – if you’re not careful you can end up becoming a stagnant pool (without purpose) or a canal (serving someone else’s purpose).
Procrastination and distraction are common traps to fall into. Take control.
Live with intention. Live with discipline. Live with purpose. Live with focus. Live with patience. Be like water, live like a river.
How about a kick-ass song about a river to end? Ok then, Bo will oblige.