I have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to my emotional outbursts over injustice, contempt, and anger. I get this from my mother. We are both Sagittarius if you put any stock in that Zodiac business. We do — but only when it suits us.
Frequently my mom will call me, like today, simmering and just about ready to boil over about some perceived atrocity that has befallen her. I often call her in a similar state.
I’ve decided lately that this is no way to live and so I tried to talk her down. She kept saying her favorite saying, “I’m just going to be like water.” This of course is a total bastardization of the old proverb (or maybe Bruce Lee said it according to this website) that water doesn’t fight obstacles, it instead goes around them, over them, just wearing those obstacles to nothing and doesn’t let obstacles get it its way. This is great if you are a normal person or maybe Bruce Lee.
However, when we are “like water” my mom and I are really angry, indignant water. It’s not a calming motto or a way of being for my mom and I. Instead, it’s a passive way of dealing with something. Which really isn’t dealing with it at all.
So today I told her, “Don’t be like water. Don’t get all stone-faced and not say anything. This is not the way to be. You need to be like Matthew McConaughey.” And in that moment, I knew I was right.
What would Matthew McConaughey do? Maybe not the real MM, but the MM that lives in our perception. MM would just takes the news, shrug his shoulders, look out at the waves — gives his toes a little wiggle in the sand maybe, and then just say, “Cool. I’ll be over there,” and he’d point to a spot on the beach. “You let me know when you work that out.” And then he’d saunter off (I imagine MM saunters without attitude) to check out a Frisbee game.
This isn’t to say MM doesn’t know when to take a stand. He’s been embroiled in a few legal battles over paparazzi, he has been arrested for “resisting transportation” during the infamous nude-bongo-weed incident, and he’s involved in a lot of charity work, according to his official website.
In fact, he originally went to school to be a lawyer. So it isn’t that he isn’t into justice, a moron, or just wandering around in some catatonic state (well, maybe he is sometimes as he is known to enjoy a little weed here and there), but rather I imagine MM knows when to get cranked up and when to just shrug his shoulders, smile, and see how the waves are doing while everyone else sorts out their shit.
And that is why being like water is bullshit.
Be like McConaughey. Just. Keep. Living.