Why I Choose to Be Like Water
“Parting is such sweet sorrow,” Shakespeare once wrote. And don’t I know it.
Recently, the big news in my home is we’re moving to the East Coast, as my wife, Jill, and I want to move closer to our daughter, who lives in Boston, and other family members scattered in several locations in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland.
Once Jill and I notified our co-workers and circle of friends outside of work that we were leaving, many of them expressed sadness that they won’t be frequently seeing us in person anymore.
That’s what Shakespeare meant when he referenced sorrow. It’s sad to know that we may not see many colleagues and friends in the Midwest again or talk to them as much as we do now. However, the sweetness of parting is remembering everything we’ve shared with them, the good and the bad. It’s also sweet to look forward to the adventure that awaits us after we move.
As I look at my living room now, which is cluttered with boxes, I have been conscientious about not letting stress get to me like it does many folks. I came across a recent study that said moving is more stressful for many people than going through a divorce.
I have tried to channel my energy for the move into things other than stress, and I want to be more like water. What does that mean? I got this mindset from Bruce Lee, the late martial artist, actor, and director, who once said, “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. … [W]ater can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
How I interpret that quote is that I need to go with the flow. This mindset applies to people in the Huntington’s disease community, because HD represents a giant tsunami that crashes into gene-positive families and their caregivers with gigantic force, overwhelming many and causing us to feel like we’re drowning.
Talk about stress!
But if we become like water, we don’t drown. What I’ve been trying to work on is to not fight what’s going on — for instance, not become bitter, sad, or depressed that my wife and daughter are gene-positive for HD — but rather to become flexible and to grow, change, and adapt to the situation.
So, rather than stressing about the move, I’m flowing with it, seeing it as a chance to meet wonderful new people and be closer to family, and to continue working on becoming a better man so I can be the best caregiver possible for my wife.
When Jill’s HD symptoms get worse in the years ahead, I hope to continue to be like water — calm and still, like a pond on a hot summer’s day, when the occasion calls for it — and maneuver my way around the rocks of life, like water rippling downstream in the rapids.
The alternative is to be like a box — enclosed, surrounded by walls, with no room to grow beyond its confined dimensions. That image makes me feel stifled and powerless.
Rather than get hit by the tsunami that is Huntington’s, I would rather be the tsunami, able to freely flow and shape-shift at a moment’s notice, pouring out into the world, ready for anything, knowing that I will be able to adapt and not resist whatever the roller coaster of life throws at me.
When life gets too overwhelming as you and your family face HD, don’t be boxes — be like water.
Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.