Be water, my (expat) friend

Be water, my friend (Bruce Lee) _ expatlingo.com

There comes a time when all expats must face the music and decide whether to stay or go, and if they go, where to go. This hot mess of a decision is complicated by all sorts of things like employers, families, visas, money and heart-strings.

When the decisions get tough, it helps to turn to a power beyond ourselves. For some this might be a heavenly being*. I, however, have settled on Bruce Lee.

Lee was a fount of inspirational quotes, including this one:

Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, 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.

Strictly speaking, Lee was talking about the practice of martial arts. His words, however, are quite applicable to a hell of a lot more including the situation of the expat-in-limbo or expat-in-transition.

At the moment I don’t know whether I’m staying or going and, while I have a hint where I may go, nothing is settled. I am in a state of expat limbo.

And so, I am being water: formless and adaptable, but also strong enough to carve through a mountain (of negotiations, language barriers, paperwork, transitional loneliness, red tape, culture shock, and HR hassles).

Be water, my friend.

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*If any heavenly beings happen to be out there, please focus your efforts on curing malaria, increasing female literacy, saving the wild tiger and infecting Kim Jong-un with avian flu.

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30 responses to “Be water, my (expat) friend

    • Ha! Thanks for sharing the link! I’ll admit the 2 vs. 3 hold punch issue has gotten me (as has the problem of never knowing what size clothes/shoes to buy).

  1. Reblogged this on "Normal" Life and commented:
    It’s unusual for me to want to reblog someone else’s work, but I was just scrolling through my Reader and this post just, you know, hit me where I am. No need for anxious queries. I am not contemplating anything drastic. However, the past semester is making me question where I will be in Xi’an next year, which opens up the mental maelstrom of “what then?” Expat Lingo’s post captures so well this moment of indecision that I thought I’d go ahead and share.

  2. Pingback: Juche ideology for the expat soul | Expat Lingo·

  3. Jennifer, that is the perfect analogy! Those transition stages are so tricky, but if you can flow, it helps so much with the “what’s next” conundrum. Great post! ~Terri

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  5. Pingback: An expat’s non-transitional spring of bliss | Expat Lingo·

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