Low Like Water
“Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water. Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, none can withstand it, because they have no way to change it. So the flexible overcome the adamant, the yielding overcome the forceful. Everyone knows this, but no one can do it.” — Lao Tzu, Dao De Ching
Lao Tzu says that no one can lay low like water, but he’s wrong. Women do it all the time. Women lay low like water. We rain down, we nourish, we quench, we delve to the deepest roots. Women give freely.
Like water, women find a way where there is no way. We flow: over, around, under, and eventually, through every material. We soak, we saturate. We infiltrate.
When the scorching sun of pain, hatred, and worst of all, indifference, dry us up to crackling thirst, women lay low. We condense, we collect. We gather in shallow places, then run in a whispering trickle. We flow, we race, we roar.
Even when women are separated by barriers, we join back up again through time and tributaries. The things that keep us apart can’t hold us back: we rush over the dam of racism, we flood the banks of classism, we overflow the narrow channels of age and beauty and size.
And women will–I promise you this–we will jack up your foundation. We will break down your machines. We will wear away the power of your stone edifice. We will liberate the ink from the pages of the books that say water is weak, that women have no power. We will borrow the forms of our oppressors, filling them until they shatter and we are free. And we will lose nothing of ourselves in the process.
So lay low, my sisters, lay low like water. Flow swiftly and quietly toward one another; fold yourselves into the larger body where we are undistinguishable, the larger body that has no shape, that has every shape. We are water; we are women. We always prevail.
The Spirit of the valley never dies.
This is called the mysterious female.
The gateway of the mysterious female
Is called the root of heaven and earth.
Dimly visible, it seems as if it were there,
Yet use will never drain it.
Laozi Dao De Jing/ Lao Tzu Tao Te Ching
As translated by D. C. Lau.
Yes. That is all.