Persist Like a River — The Wisdom of Water

Harmonise with change

Thomas Oppong


Photo: Martin Sanchez/Unsplash

“A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.”― James N. Watkins

Water, with its timeless and immutable nature, has long been revered as a source of wisdom and a symbol of profound truths.

In contemplating the wisdom of water, we find a powerful metaphor for human existence and the enduring pursuit of our goals.

At the heart of this metaphor lies the notion of persisting like a river, flowing ceaselessly in the face of obstacles and adapting to change.

Consider the essence of a river — a flowing body of water that carves its path through mountains, valleys, and forests.

A river embodies persistence, as it never relents in its journey towards its destination — the vast expanse of the ocean.

Similarly, we encounter numerous challenges, setbacks, and uncertainties in our lives. In these moments, we can draw inspiration from the river and its unwavering determination.

Bruce Lee explains it beautifully, “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.”

A river teaches us that obstacles are not barriers but opportunities for growth and transformation.

Embrace resilience like a river to become an agent of change, moulding your circumstances rather than being moulded by them.

Just as a river finds alternative routes around boulders and dams, we must adapt and seek new paths when confronted with the many obstacles we consistently face.

The wisdom of water lies in its ability to navigate challenges with grace and fluidity, reminding us that persistence is not synonymous with rigidity but rather with adaptability.



Thomas Oppong

Making the wisdom of great thinkers instantly accessible. As seen on Forbes, Inc. and Business Insider. For my popular essays, go here: