Commentary: ‘Be water, my friend’
With limited live sports on television due to the pandemic, I’ve found myself immersed in ESPN’s documentaries and the new season of 30 for 30.
With each episode I’m teleported back to certain points in my lifetime. I remember how things were, what I was doing, and how things have changed.
My trip down the rabbit hole of memory lane began with the 10 part documentary series titled “The Last Dance” about the legendary Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. For my generation and many others Jordan is the greatest to ever lace up a pair of sneakers — everybody wanted to be like Mike.
Next I watched “Lance” profiling Lance Armstrong’s rise and fall in competitive cycling. I was never a fan of Armstrong, I was a Greg LeMond guy. He inspired me to buy my first 10-speed after his Tour de France victory. I wanted to race the Tour, so I started training. There was one slight problem, I was surrounded by gravel roads, and had to carry my bike a mile just to get to a paved road.
This past weekend I watched “Long Gone Summer” which followed the home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa back in 1998. Being a St. Louis fan I watched as many games as I could and the home run race that year was captivating. I even remember driving back to college that season and stopping in St Louis to try catch a game. The Internet as we know it was in its infancy — this was before StubHub — so the only way to find tickets was to roam outside and hope to find a ticket scalper. I could hear the roar of the crowd echo through the arches of the old Busch Stadium, that’s as close as I was able to get.
Each of these documentaries had a nostalgic affect on me, but it was one that aired two weeks ago titled “Be Like Water” that reinvigorated my soul, raising the hair on my arms and awakening a spiritual element in my life that I had long forgotten.
The film followed the life and untimely death of Lee Jun-fan, better known as Bruce Lee. The film documented his time in America as he began teaching martial arts to the masses, tried to make his mark in the television and movie industry, and enlightened the world with his philosophy before dying at the age of 32.
The crazy thing is that Lee’s death came 3 years before I was even born, but to this day I remember watching his films with one of my childhood friends. We would reenact the fight scenes, fighting over which one of us was Bruce Lee.
I even remember that for some reason we thought he was frozen in some ice cave in the Cascade mountain range outside Seattle, waiting to come back. I know, pretty crazy right — but our childhood imagination had us believing there was now way someone so powerful could be dead.
Most people around my age thought Chuck Norris was the cat’s meow when it came to martial arts, but just ask Chuck who the original kung fu master was.
Their careers overlapped briefly but if you’re a fan you will remember one of, if not the greatest fight scenes between Lee and Norris in the 1972 film “Return of the Dragon.”
When I was younger it was all about the martial arts and learning how he shaped his body into a fighting machine, but as I get older I find myself listening more to his philosophy and how he built his mind and filled it with knowledge.
“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water in a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot,” Bruce Lee once said. “Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
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