Maria Popova’s “Be Like Water: The Philosophy and Origin of Bruce Lee’s Famous Metaphor for Resilience”


The father of Mixed Martial Arts, filmmaker, movie star, and cultural icon, Bruce Lee is forever etched in the annals of time for his incredible blend of physical and mental mastery. He was a rare force that transcended category and limitation of all kinds in his journey of self-discovery and expression. Aside from his feats of strength, martial arts legacy, and genre-bending movies The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Way of the Dragon, Enter the Dragon, and the posthumously made Game of Death, Lee is renowned for his intellectual depth and wisdom. One of his more famous quotes is from an appearance he made on the TV series Longstreet: 

Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. Put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot . Now water can flow or creep or drip or crash! Be water, my friend.

The wise advice is posted on websites all over the Internet and lodged in the memories of every Lee fan across the globe. But few know the backstory behind the wisdom. The lovely Maria Popova, writer and founder of the informative website, cites passages from a collection of private entries Lee wrote discussing his philosophies on life, love, martial arts, and parenthood, entitled Bruce Lee: Artist of Life. A candid piece details the origin of Lee’s most famous quote.

When my acute self-consciousness grew to what the psychologists refer to as the “double-bind” type, my instructor would again approach me and say, “Loong, preserve yourself by following the natural bends of things and don’t interfere. Remember never to assert yourself against nature; never be in frontal opposition to any problems, but control it by swinging with it. Don’t practice this week: Go home and think about it.

After spending many hours meditating and practicing, I gave up and went sailing alone in a junk. On the sea I thought of all my past training and got mad at myself and punched the water! Right then — at that moment — a thought suddenly struck me; was not this water the very essence of gung fu? Hadn’t this water just now illustrated to me the principle of gung fu? I struck it but it did not suffer hurt. Again I struck it with all of my might — yet it was not wounded! I then tried to grasp a handful of it but this proved impossible. This water, the softest substance in the world, which could be contained in the smallest jar, only seemed weak. In reality, it could penetrate the hardest substance in the world. That was it! I wanted to be like the nature of water.

Suddenly a bird flew by and cast its reflection on the water. Right then I was absorbing myself with the lesson of the water, another mystic sense of hidden meaning revealed itself to me; should not the thoughts and emotions I had when in front of an opponent pass like the reflection of the birds flying over the water? This was exactly what Professor Yip meant by being detached — not being without emotion or feeling, but being one in whom feeling was not sticky or blocked. Therefore in order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature.

Powerful stuff, right?

Beautifully penned by Popova, the rest of the article offers even more insight into one of the most profound people ever to grace this Earth. Check it out in its entirety here.



Variant Comics Breaks Down The History of The Transformers

Arris Quinones is the kind of guy I could sit down with for an afternoon and get utterly lost in superhero conversation. He breaks down comic books and comic book characters in a way every fan can understand. Here, he delves into the history of The Transformers just in time for the opening of Transformers: Age of Extinction.

I love brushing up on a franchise prior to its theatrical release because it deepens my understanding of the characters and the little homages filmmakers insert for the avid franchise followers of the comic book and cartoon. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to check this video out. Here you go:

Follow Variant Comics on their YouTube page here, Facebook page here. Follow Arris Quinones on his Twitter here.

Michael Sam, Ellen Page, and Why I Really Don’t Give A Damn

It troubles me that the sexual preferences of celebrities and athletes is still a newsworthy moment in these times. Obviously, people’s feathers ruffle at the thought that someone in a well-to-do position, be it an actor or football player, enjoys lovemaking from the same sex, as if it’s any different than the gay couple in the market or at the gym. But, why?

What the hell does it have to do with you and your life?

Ellen Page is a fine actress. I enjoyed her performances in Juno and Inception. The fact that she’s gay rubs me neither this nor that way. It does nothing to the impact of her work on the big screen. Admittedly, I now assume that she didn’t enjoy the kisses with Michael Cera or Joseph Gordon-Levitt in those films as much as I may have liked to believe, but, that’s of such little significance I second-guessed typing this sentence. (Humor made me do it. Or rather, lack thereof.)

Michael Sam, the openly homosexual NFL prospect, has yet to entertain me. I haven’t watched him in action. But, he’s spread across the news for his lifestyle more so than his physical prowess. I don’t know how fast he runs the forty yard dash. I don’t know which teams are pursuing him. I know he’s gay and I fail to see the reason so.

Which is of more importance here?

Maybe if every homosexual celebrity revealed such intimate details about themselves to the public, it would desensitize the media outlets enough for this to never make the headlines. Perhaps that would be bad for business. Promoters would fret at the idea of their clients losing steam from fans who fail to recognize that these people have careers, separate from their home lives which is separate from the prying eyes and intrusive ears of the world; lives that don’t necessarily coincide with their image. Perhaps these people have the right, same as the rest of us, to live their own lives with dignity, enough so that what they do in private can remain as such.

Is that too much to ask?

Haven’t we learned how to juxtapose fantasy and reality? Are parents teaching their children to idolize the people on their flat screens?

Mine never did. My favorite musicians and athletes were always flawed. Michael Jackson was a reported pedophile. Michael Jordan was competitive to a maniacal degree. Kobe Bryant was accused and acquitted of rape, but was ultimately guilty of marital infidelity. Eminem was a drug addict. The list goes on…

Somehow, the spectacular tube we watch these entertainers on imprints our psyches such that to imagine them as civilians burdened with the same emotions and desires as ourselves frazzles the mind. All this technological advancement and we haven’t learned to properly interpret the TV and its inhabitants.

We need to mature. We need to prioritize. We need to stop judging and start understanding for the sake of our children’s future, if nothing else.

I’m Andre Johnson, and I’m a heterosexual.

Did that just change anything?

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The Kidnapping Experiment

Imagine a child comes up to you out of nowhere. He claims he was separated from his family by someone he didn’t know. As he’s telling you this,  someone appears and pulls him away from you against his will. The child claims this isn’t his parent, that he doesn’t even know this person.

What do you do?

Fouseytube ran an experiment to test people’s moral compass.

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Twentysomething Life in Charts and Graphs

This is exactly why I love Buzzfeed. Here, they’ve charted and graphed life as a twenty-something year old to perfection. From the movies and books you enjoy, to the dating and work world, they’ve got it all hilariously covered. Enjoy.

16 Graphs And Charts That Perfectly Illustrate Twentysomething Life

Props to Adam Ellis & Rega Jha for the illustrations.

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Think You Know A Lot About Sex?

The Science of Orgasms

By: AsapScience 

Did you know the relaxation of the Amygdala and Hippocampus in women reduces their emotions during sex, producing a trance-like state? Or that their brain almost completely shuts down mid-orgasm? How about that the cortex lights up suggesting a connection between pain and pleasure?

I damn sure didn’t.

Learn all that and more here:

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Soldier Reunites With Dog After A Year of Military Service

One married military couple has come up with the most amazing way to help out fellow soldiers… and their best friends. The last thing soldiers want to worry about before deployment is if their dogs will be cared for, so the couple created the website Dogs On Deployment to help match military pets with loving foster parents.  This video from The Queen Latifah Show shows US Soldier Jess reuniting with her best friend, Emma, after a year and it is an absolute tearjerker.  What an incredible way to give back to our hardworking military men and women! I will definitely be sharing this story with friends. Make sure you watch the entire video… the way Emma reacts to seeing her Captain mama is absolutely beautiful.

Blog Pet Flow 

This kind of stuff just warms my heart. I’m a big softy for pets these days. I have two cats that I absolutely adore. I’m probably the only guy with more cat pictures on his phone than his girlfriend. But, once these little buggers get into your heart, it’s all over. I’m glad Queen Latifah shed light on this service. It’s a wonderful thing.

Watch the dog take a second to recognize exactly who the soldier is. Then, it’s a real reunion, doggy style. (Get your mind out of the gutter).

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Celebrities Read Vicious Tweets About Themselves.

Some people are cruel and write very harsh things to celebrities on Twitter. What you don’t see when you send a nasty tweet is that it can cause pain. So to raise awareness, and hopefully make people think twice before they post something awful, we’ve once again assembled a group of famous faces to remind everyone that words hurt.

Jimmy Kimmel Live 

I thought Rob Lowe’s mean tweet was the best. Just the way he read it, his face afterward, it all came together.


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Picking Up The Weights Where You Left Off

You wouldn’t know it from looking at me now, the fleshy man-sack I’ve become, but I was a total gym rat last year.

Stop laughing. Seriously.

I did the research. I downloaded the fat loss regimens and muscle-building doctrines fitness experts swear by. I subscribed to the low-fat fitness lifestyle – no candy, fried foods, table sugar, white bread, et cetera. And circuit training quickly became my favorite workout routine. I was all about boosting my heart rate, liquidating calories, and eating healthy.

“Captain Cardio reporting for duty”. (Cardiac Athletes)

As testament to my dedication, I even looked into becoming a personal trainer. I was at my gym, offering guidance and tips to others, the whole nine yards. So, why not? I was self-motivated to look and feel better, to get bigger and stronger yet leaner and meaner. And that’s what I did. It was great.

I lost weight, gained strength, and found my confidence. Being shirtless wasn’t the equivalent of watching The Exorcist alone at night anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t morph into Channing Tatum, but I had an athletic look going for the first time in my life. Clothes hung on me different. Jeans were snugger. My posture improved along with my endurance and musculature. So, I was feeling a lot like Mr. Tatum, or rather, what I think it feels like to be Mr. Tatum. (He’s chased by beautiful women everywhere he goes, right?) I sized guys up now. I felt capable of defending myself in hypothetical situations against nearly anyone; typical testosterone-fueled thoughts that put a glide in my step better than Travolta in his prime. I had the Chuck Norris aura.

But, a very untimely M.S. relapse audited my accomplishments. My left hand and leg started to go haywire. That pins and needles sensitivity you get when a limb “falls asleep” seemed stuck on me. It had been progressively worsening, occasional flare ups, but I shrugged it off as a side effect of a sore body after an intense workout. Soon, though, it was preventing me from lifting heavy weight, and later, it made basic movement challenging. Still, in my glorious stupidity, the other side to my testosterone-fueled thoughts, I attempted a bare bones circuit, just burpees and push-ups. The results were heart-breaking. The bottom line was I had no business exercising. I could barely balance myself down a flight of stairs much less perform a total body workout.

Skip ahead three months, the numbness has mostly subsided and I’m left with the collateral damage – a blank drawing board that is my flaccid, muscle-less body.  Gone is the tone and conditioning that once made me frighteningly confident, not to mention that Tatum-esque appearance. I have arrived back at square one and it sucks.

I know I need to quit bitching and just get my ass back in the gym. But, it’s hard to find the inspiration. The YouTube pages and Instagram accounts I follow are predominantly fitness-oriented and push me in the opposite direction. Every video and picture is just an insult, a tease, a bitter reminder of the progress I’ve lost.  I saw the story of a mother of three turning her life around via exercise and just wanted to berate her.

“Where are your kids while you’re busy taking selfies at the gym? Huh? You selfish bitch?!”

Attempts at humor aside, it’s been a disheartening time. Picture completing a novel that took you all year to write. You type it up but before you can save it, the computer suddenly shuts off. You’re left with nothing but the memories. Those damn memories. All you can do after you flip over the table and kick your cat in the ribs is to set up shop again and go back to work. But, the hardest part is that first step. Upon moving forward, you find out exactly how far you’ve fallen and it’s rarely a pleasant experience.

Needless to say, it’s a mandatory experience. It’s all downhill from there. And that’s the good part. Since I’m no longer a mindless rookie, my starting point isn’t as further back as it may seem. Muscle memory will kick in and I’ll be back in shape in a much shorter time frame than it took to initially see results.  See, for every gut punch I self-inflict in my bitterness, I know I wouldn’t be half as upset if I hadn’t actually accomplished something in the first place. Every time I quit on my goals in the past, I wasn’t upset at all. I didn’t achieve much aside from trimming some baby fat. This time I feel I’ve lost so much, retrieving it is too daunting an objective. That means I’m on to something, here.

So, this sucky step I shall take back to the gym, sweating with the meat-heads and staring at myself in the mirror for far too long after my workout. Fair warning, be on the lookout for this future post: “How I Got Back on Track: A Formerly Fat Guy’s Guide to Fitness.”

Dude, it’ll be awesome.

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Continue? 10… 9… 8… 7…

I stress myself out when it comes to writing. Short stories, blog posts, and even comments are a source of anxiety and phobia. I push through sentences only to return and scan the words angrily, upset at the lack of rhythm, redundancy, “of” over usage (really irks me!), and sub-par imagery. Then, there’s the issue of (ahh!) whether or not my posts, or as I like to call them – “psychotic typings” – are being read at all. There’s such little return in this passion to keep the flame ignited. I tell myself one like a day is plenty, one new follower a day is monumental; tips to keep myself from throwing in the towel. But, to be this self-conscious at every figurative turn, I can’t imagine for a successful writer.

The limited brain cells floating around in my attic saw a successful writer as someone who lived in a log cabin, drank 4-5 coffee cups a day while typing furiously into their laptop by a fireplace. Movie scripts, newspaper columns, magazine articles, you name it and a successful writer pumps them out assembly line style. It takes me half an hour to post a worthwhile comment. I seriously doubt I have what it takes.

My problem is I took the complements I received all my life too seriously. Ever since writing was an important scholastic endeavor, I remember being highly accredited for my work. In seventh grade, somehow, I was the only student who paid attention to the assignment details, and wrote a piece that made my teacher tear. He could’ve just been elated that someone in the thirty-five seats surrounding him caught a few seconds of what he had been saying all morning. I took it to mean that I was the Stephen King of my class. Then, there was an autobiography contest in high-school. I started and completed my paper the night before it was due. The following day my name appeared on a list written on the chalkboard. Apparently, I was a finalist. The paper took me to the final four where I lost out to an unidentified scholar. But, it was far enough to grant me a trip to the National Honors Society, which my mother made into a big deal. Truthfully, I didn’t care. Even my college English professor told me I was arguably the best writer in his class, someone whose work he was delighted to grade. I never took more than the hour of free time I had before his class to write his assignments. So, in my mind, I was easily number one.

Then, I turn to blogging, actually trying to piece together words to form original, thought-provoking material and for the first time in my entire life feel the smack of my own mortality. I don’t want to sound unappreciative of the likes, comments, and followers I have obtained, but I can’t peel away these insecure feelings that I’m just another WordPress junkie who thought he had it all figured out but didn’t.

I’m at the age where career-building is paramount. The experts say follow your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life. The only thing I can see myself doing is writing. Even though I drive myself insane, I’d rather impose my own perfectionist values on something creative and personal than to kiss some rich guy’s ass for a basic 9-5 gig. I know that much for sure.

But, the inspiration to pursue such a dream is waning.

I love blogging. I love reading interesting posts, articles, essays, and movie screenplays. I love sharing the proudest piece of my character with others: the writer and thinker within. Too often, however, I fear I’m not actually connecting with anyone out there, and these things I love are just a waste of time.

Perhaps, I am that 9-5 schmuck. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just not what I imagined myself becoming. I suppose this is the part where I realize growing up is less about what you dream and more about what’s reality. I fear I’ve run out of reasons to hang on.

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