Yoga 1: What the hell is water?
There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”
This story is taken from a speech given by writer David Foster Wallace.
Think about this story for a little bit. What do you think this story is trying to tell us? I want you to take a couple of minutes to really think about it.
Ok, take a few more moments to think about it before you read on.
So, what do you think it means? I don’t know about you but when I heard this story the first time I was terribly disturbed, from the core of my heart. Its implication is heart wrenching, soul shaking.
Are we all not like that fish? Not the old one, but the young one? The fish was born in the water and lived in the water ever since. He is surrounded by the water all the time. And yet, he does not know what water is. Because he is so used to it, he does not think about it anymore. He does not feel it, he does not notice it.
The situation is the same with most of us. We are all submerged in this mystery around us that is called nature (or whatever you want to call it) and yet we go on living without noticing it. We are so preoccupied with the daily routines of life that we don’t anymore feel what it really means to be alive.
In a way, we got used to living, so much so that we don’t feel alive anymore. Except for a few moments that touch our souls deeply, we are most of the time vegetating, not living.
But are we all doomed? Are there no ways out of this machine-like living? It turns out that there are ways, and yoga is one of them.