Embrace the Water

Water has played a crucial role throughout my career as an artist, whatever the modality or the spiritual symbol of it. Bruce Lee once described water in an interview: ‘Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water; and you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup; you put water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle; you put water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or can crash. Be water, my friend.’ I was deeply touched not just because of the changeable form of water, but also the possibility of the unpredictable.

I started getting professional training when I was in elementary school, beginning with a swimming camp. I was around ten years old, and it was very a basic start-up for kids like me at that time. Surprisingly, I was amazed by the perspective I gained when underwater. Everything was so different from my whole body embraced by the malleable material—water. I made a significant decision shortly afterward under the guidance of my parents—continue the training and be very dedicated to it.

My efforts and time did not end in vain. I got selected to the competitive swimming team for my city as the coach discovered my talent in backstroke since I had already won the championship in several city-wide matches. Then, my career as a competitive swimmer began. My training started right after my school ended, day after day, month after month. Sometimes I felt desperate, feeling that loneliness under water. It was like taking a long-distance ride, with no company, no sound, no vision of others. It was just me swimming between the lanes, looking down at the bottom of the pool, listening to the buzzing sound from the water’s waves.

You swim alone.

That’s how I started to meditate under water, knowing that there was nothing to speak, nothing to hear, nothing to touch. I was surrounded by the unknown, uncertainty, and that was what I got from water to further develop my theory as an artist. Fear from the very beginning had gradually turned into closeness and, at last, respect. Everything stops in the water—your emotions, your pain, your life, your soul. Water watches, yet it doesn’t care.

It’s still, and silent.