“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.
Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
― Bruce Lee
Being in the ocean a peaceful and inspiring and invigorating place to be. Maybe it’s because we humanoids gravity-glued to this spinning ball called Earth in our spacesuits of skin are largely made of water. Or perhaps because, like us, the ocean can be both calm (but never completely still) and also exert boundless power with a full spectrum of “moods” in between. Or just as she, the Ocean, is the home of an intricate and rich ecosystem — from zooplankton to the Blue Whale, from coral reefs and volcanic rock to silky soft sand of the ocean floor — we, too, have an infinite, diverse array of Life forces coursing through us, from DNA to blood and bones to muscle and skin and the electromagnetic pulsation of our thoughts, feelings, and consciousness. Like an exo-skeletal version of us land mammals, the ocean is us and we are her.
So it’s not surprising that she is such a synchronous metaphysical mirror for us. Especially when we are experiencing times of transition or challenge. Change, like the ocean, is an unmitigated force of Time and Life as we know it. And we all have different responses at different moments during these shifts. Even if we are not consciously aware of change, we can feel it intuitively, like the pull of an approaching wave as it draws us in. We may resist at first, but at some point we must engage it. And the best way to do that is to surrender.
Surrender does not necessarily mean to acquiesce or give up or give in. It’s more like a conscious communion. And it doesn’t look any one particular way. We can evaluate the wave — size, pull, proximity — and then choose an engagement that feels right at the time. Sometimes we submerge and the wave washes over us. We are in flow, but not bowled over or knocked down. We can also dive into the trough, the juicy heart of it, the bubbles of the crest tickling our feet as we land just on the other side. And, of course, we can also pick our moment to swim ahead as the wave comes closer, infusing ourselves into the flow as it propels us forward.
I am always in awe of the ocean and the waves I ride. When I want to let the wave roll over me, I turn to face it and receive a heavenly exfoliation from Mother Nature. Diving through the wave is empowering and I feel activated! And riding a wave? Catching it at just that right spot as I stop stroking and kicking and just let it carry me, my arms outstretched and eyes looking forward? Pure joy.
Regardless of how we choose to engage with the transitions we experience in our lives, it doesn’t have to become total devastation or ongoing trauma. Parts of these unpredictable shifts certainly can be painful and difficult, but we can always choose to feel empowered, enlivened, awakened, cleansed, and actively engaged because we are participating instead of disconnecting from it all. Acknowledging rather than denying or avoiding it.
If you are in the ocean, you will always feel the changing tide and the undulating waves it brings. It’s impossible not to engage with it. Such is life, should you choose to accept and surrender . . . and ride them waves!