<h2><p align="center">[[<img src="images/00.jpg">|intro02]]</h2></p>
By Patrick Miller (<a href="http://www.twitter.com/pattheflip">@pattheflip</a>) and Irene Koh (<a href="http://www.twitter.com/kohquette">@kohquette</a>)
"A teacher is never a giver of truth; he is a guide, a pointer to the truth that each student must find for himself. A good teacher is merely a catalyst."
-[[Bruce Lee|intro03]] (1940 - 1973)
At the height of Bruce Lee's career, he was frequently found bouncing between the United States and Hong Kong -- a movie shoot here, a training engagement there -- often alone, so as not to disrupt his wife and children's lives.
His lifestyle required him to keep a room in Los Angeles. Nothing fancy, just a bedroom in a sleepy apartment complex far from the reach of fans and journalists.
As it happened, you were looking for a roommate, and you had an old college buddy who was working as a PA on one of Lee's projects. Said buddy passed you onto Lee's [[assistant.|intro04]]
And so you answer the doorbell one Saturday morning, to find Bruce Lee standing at the front gate of your apartment, wearing a well-fitted black tank top and blue jeans, and of course, his sweet aviator sunglasses.
He's carrying a suitcase and a gym bag.
You move to help him with his stuff, but he gently taps your hand out of the way, grins, and grabs the bags himself. You lead him to your apartment.
<p align="center"><h3>[[Chapter one: Moving and not moving|conv0101]]</p></h3>
You open the door and Bruce Lee strolls into your shared apartment, effortlessly pulling his luggage along with him. He takes his shoes off, and you follow suit.
He walks over to the vacant bedroom, quickly unpacks his things into the shabby dresser in the corner, and lingers for a second at the window, taking in the view of the downtown Los Angeles skyline peeking up over the small homes and apartments that fill up any empty LA lot.
You're not sure what to make small talk with Bruce Lee about. In your infinite wisdom, you open with the weather. It's another sunny day in LA, and the 11AM sunlight is streaming through the window.
[["Phew, sure is hot out here."|conv0102]]
You babble something about the weather and activities. Bruce Lee smiles.
"I like light rain. It gives one such a sense of calmness and tranquility. I enjoy walking in the rain. But most of all, I like books. I read all types of books -- fiction and nonfiction."
You hadn't thought that a martial arts movie star would be such an avid reader, but you remember reading in a magazine profile a while ago that Lee went to college at the University of Washington in Seattle, which is probably where he acquired the taste for rain. Unfortunately, there's not much of that to be found here. You see a stack of his books on the dresser, next to an open notepad with several sketches of human forms.
[[Is he an artist, too?|conv0103]]
He shows you the sketches. They're diagrams of different kinds of fighting movements.
"Art lives where absolute freedom is, because where it is not, there can be no creativity."
You mull that over for a second.
Absolute freedom, huh.
Speaking of freedom...
...where'd he park? There's street cleaning on your block tomorrow morning, and [[you'd hate for him to get a ticket.|conv0104]]
You explain the way the apartment's tandem parking works: you can both park in the lot, but your space is two cars deep, so only one of you can exit at one time. Does he want the inner spot or the outer spot?
"Jeet Kune Do dislikes partialization or localization. Totality can meet all situations."
You are silently grateful that you remember enough of the magazine profile to know that Jeet Kune Do is what Bruce Lee calls his hybrid martial arts system, not an affectionate name for his car. You feel mildly proud of yourself for remembering that.
Then you realize he didn't really answer the question.
[[Bruce Lee walks over to the kitchen and starts making a pot of tea.|conv0106]]
Bruce Lee has only been in the apartment for fifteen minutes and it already feels like he's lived here longer than you have. Right now, he's sitting on the living room sofa, feet up on the coffee table, and he's got a kettle going with some jasmine tea.
The kettle whistles. He pours two cups at the coffee table and gestures for you to join him. You've never seen such well-defined arms ripple as he tilts his hand once to pour and again to stop. He's drinking his tea out of a purple mug.
Well, you've got a kung fu movie star in your living room. Might as well ask him about that.
[["Wish I had more time to work out."|conv0107]]
You make your best bicep curl pose. You were never a Muscle Beach regular or anything, but it's hard to live in Los Angeles and not absorb a little bit of gym work here and there. Fitness by osmosis.
Bruce Lee chuckles. "Take a walk whenever you can -- like parking the car a few blocks away from your destination," he says, " Avoid taking the elevator; climb the stairs instead. Cultivate your quiet awareness by imagining an opponent attacking you -- while you are sitting, standing, or lying down, etc. -- and counter that attack with various moves. Simple moves are the best. Practice your balance by standing on one foot to put your clothes or shoes on -- or simply stand on one foot whenever you choose."
Somehow, you're most impressed by his willingness to suffer bad parking spots and staircases in the LA heat.
[["What do you do for, uh, cardio?"|conv0108]]
Bruce Lee walks over to his bedroom to grab his running shoes out of his bag and set them down by the door.
"When I'm jogging early in the morning, boy! It's sure refreshing. Although Hong Kong is one of the most crowded places in the world, I'm surprised how peaceful it can be in the morning. Sure, there are people, but I become oblivious to them while I am running."
"Jogging is not only a form of exercise to me, it is also a form of relaxation. It is my own hour every morning when I can be alone with my thoughts."
[["Do you, like, diet or anything?|conv0109]]
Bruce Lee shrugs. "Only eat what your body requires, and don't become carried away with foods that don't benefit you."
You wonder what your fridge is going to look like in a week or two. Right on cue, your stomach growls. It's lunchtime, and you didn't even eat much for breakfast, so you decide to test his willpower by dragging him down to the In-n-Out down the street.
[["Bruce Lee, I'd like you to meet the Double-Double."|conv0110]]
Bruce Lee orders his Double-Double protein style, so as not to waste calories on the refined flour in the bun.
Your dastardly plan has failed.
[["Man, I thought that Double-Double had your number."|conv0111]]
"I have learned that being challenged means one thing and that is what is your reaction to it? How does it affect you? Now if you are secure within yourself, you treat it very, very lightly. Because you ask yourself: 'Am I really afraid of that man?' Or 'Do I have any doubt within me that he is going to get me?' And if I do not have such doubt, and if I do not have such fear, I would certainly treat it very lightly -- just as today the rain is going on strong, but tomorrow, baby, the sun is going to come out again."
The two of you scarf your burgers up and head back to the apartment to finish off that pot of tea. (You ordered an Animal Style Double-Double but held off on your usual shake and fries. See, he's already having a good influence on you.)
On your walk back, some asshole in a nice car doesn't look before turning and almost runs you over. Bruce Lee pulls you out of the way.
"FUCK YOU ASSHOLE" you scream at the car. You've never really gotten into any fights or anything, but you've never really walked around with Bruce Lee, either.
[["Don't you want to beat that guy up?"|conv0112]]
Bruce Lee's face turns serious. He wags his finger at you and says:
"Nowadays you don't go around on the street kicking people or punching people, because if you do -- bang! That's it. I don't care how good you are in martial art. Today everything can be settled by law. Even if you want to avenge your father, you need not challenge on to a fight."
You feel a little embarrassed. If you were in a kung fu movie, you'd definitely be the brash young student who gets the sifu in trouble.
On the other hand, Bruce Lee is your roommate, and he saved your life. That's pretty cool.
[["How do you stay so calm?"|conv0113]]
Bruce Lee laughs.
"Recognizing that my emotions often err in their overenthusiasm, and my faculty of reason often is without the warmth of feeling that is necessary to enable me to combine justice with mercy in my judgments, I will encourage my conscience to guide me as to what is right and what is wrong, but I will never set aside the verdicts it renders, no matter what may be the cost of carrying them out."
Bruce Lee claps you on your shoulders. The two of you walk back to your apartment and retire to your respective rooms to nap off the burger.
[[It's been one hell of a morning.|conv0200]]
<p align="center"><h3>[[Chapter two: What we are|conv0201]]
The shriek of the tea kettle rouses you from your burger coma. Feels like it's about, yawn, late afternoon. You have some errands and a little work you'd like to take care of today.
You shuffle into the living room to find Bruce Lee pouring two cups of tea. Well, you suppose you can get your stuff done after drinking tea with Bruce Lee.
[["Yikes, is it four already? Feels like I wasted my day."|conv0202]]
"To spend time is to pass it in a specified manner. To waste time is to expend it thoughtlessly or carelessly. We all have time to either spend or waste, and it is our decision what to do with it. But once passed, it is gone forever."
[["Work has been kind of busy lately…"|conv0203]]
Bruce Lee nods.
"Time means a lot to me because, you see, I, too, am also a learner and am often lost in the joy of forever developing and simplifying. If you love life, don't waste time, for time is what life is made up of."
You've never felt lost in the joy of working on a weekend.
[["I guess working on a weekend is wasting it, huh?"|conv0204]]
"Balance is the all-important factor in a fighter's attitude or stance. Without balance at all times, he can never be effective."
You didn't expect Bruce Lee to be lecturing you on work-life balance.
You also didn't expect Bruce Lee to open the fridge and pull out a pair of brownies. He offers one to you and hoooooly shit if this isn't the dankest weed brownie you've smelled in a long time. You wonder if he made them himself.
[["So how do you like to spend your weekends?"|conv0205]]
Bruce Lee pops the brownie down in a few bites and washes it down with the tea. You follow suit.
"Not being tense but ready, not thinking yet not dreaming, not being set but flexible -- it is being wholly and quietly alive, aware and alert, ready for what may come."
[[You know, that sounds kind of nice.|conv0206]]
One hour later, you and Bruce Lee, your new roommate, are high as two Tyrus Wong kites off some sticky-icky brownies, and you're hanging out on the rooftop of your apartment complex listening to jazz on your portable radio.
You've been pretty down on your work lately, and it's been compounded by the feeling that everyone else in LA is hustling harder than you are, no matter how many extra days you put in.
"With adversity you are shocked to higher levels, much like a rain storm that is so violent, but yet afterwards all plant grows."
You sip your tea.
[["I just wish it weren't so frustrating."|conv0207]]
"Without frustration you will not discover that you might be able to do something on your own. We grow through conflict."
You sip your tea again.
[["But conflict is scary..."|conv0208]]
"Fear comes from uncertainty. When we are absolutely certain, whether of our worth or our worthlessness, we are almost impervious to fear. Thus, a feeling of utter unworthiness can be a source of courage. Everythings possible when we are absolutely helpless or absolutely powerful -- and both states stimulate our gullibility."
You're almost done with your cup of tea.
[["That's ridiculous. Aren't you scared you'll lose?"|conv0209]]
"What is defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first step to something better."
One or two sips left.
[["Maybe if I were more talented I'd get a chance at something better."|conv0210]]
"We are told that talent creates its own opportunities. Yet, it sometimes seems that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities, but its own talents as well."
You finish your cup of tea. Bruce Lee stands up and pours you another one.
The cup is full, but he keeps pouring more water into it while staring into your eyes.
Water is getting all over the rooftop.
[["Stop, the cup is full, you can't pour any more in!"|conv0211]]
Bruce Lee stops pouring the water.
"Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions. If you do not first empty your cup, how can you taste my cup of tea?"
You try to take a sip of the too-full cup and spill a little on your shirt.
"In order to taste my cup of water you must first empty your cup. My friend, drop all of your preconceived fixed ideas and be neutral. Do you know why this cup is so useful? Because it is empty."
[[You say nothing.|conv0212]]
"The problem lies in asking somebody else to solve your own problem instead of asking yourself. I can give you ten thousand of my ways, but they are my way, not yours. An individual's questions are answerable only by the individual himself, and nothing would be gained by his sitting in on a recital of mine."
[["How do I find my answer?"|conv0213]]
"To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are."
The sun has long since set, the battery in your radio has long since died, and you find yourself staring off into the stars trying to digest the day's conversation. You feel like you have more questions than answers -- but that feeling is unusually comforting.
Bruce Lee breaks the silence. "If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done."
With that, he stands up to make his way back down to the apartment. You decide to stay for a little bit longer, and when you come back, you find that he's retired to his room for the night.
[[You wish him good night, grab a snack from the fridge, and pass out.|conv0300]]
The week goes by, and with the weekend comes another lazy Los Angeles morning. You hear Bruce Lee leave fairly early. Time for his morning run.
You make yourself a cup of coffee, open the window to let a light breeze in, and lounge about in your underwear for a bit. Having Bruce Lee as a roommate is pretty rad, but there's nothing like some quality alone time.
Especially in the living room.
[[You slip your hand down your underwear and close your eyes.|conv0302]]
The apartment door opens, and you instinctively explode into the most unnatural just-sitting-on-the-couch-definitely-not-masturbating pose you can think of.
(You usually hear footsteps coming down the hallway, but you should have known by now that Bruce Lee walks more silently than a cat. What is this, amateur hour?)
Bruce Lee looks at you and laughs.
"What was that? An exhibition?"
He raises one eyebrow. "You need emotional content."
"Repeat! A good fighter knows every stroke."
Bruce Lee pours himself a cup of coffee from the pot you made.
"Learn to hold your fire until you can hit your opponent."
Is Bruce Lee giving you sex advice?
[["I'm, uh, I'm not sure what you're talking about"|conv0304]]
Bruce Lee sits down on the couch with you. (On the other side of it, not right next to you.) You think you see him trying to hold in a laugh.
"If emotional control is not well-learned, critical moments in the fight when the emotional tension is highest will result in loss of skill by the fighter. His muscles suddenly must work against his own over-tense antagonistic muscles. He becomes stiff and clumsy in his movements. Expose yourself to various conditions and learn."
[["Wait, what are you insinuating about my sex life?"|conv0305]]
"Experience shows that an athlete who forces himself to the limit can keep going as long as necessary. This means that ordinary effort will not tap or release the tremendous store of reserve power latent in the human body. Extraordinary effort, highly emotionalized conditions or a true determination to win at all costs will release this extra energy. Therefore, an athlete is actually as tired as he feels and, if he is determined to win, he can keep on almost definitely to achieve his objective."
You're torn between feeling mildly wounded that Bruce Lee is dissing your bedroom game, and trying to ponder the words he's saying. That struggle is evident on your face, and it's enough to shatter Bruce Lee's attempt at composure. He guffaws and slaps you on the shoulder.
"Vary your partner and you will not be fixed at a specific tactic or cadence."
[["...so I should use my other hand, or…?"|conv0306]]
No one in LA enjoys the dating scene. Maybe living in Hollywood makes normal mortals seem inferior by contrast. You've tried to focus on your work instead, but with minimal progress there, it's not easy to find someone who doesn't think they're settling.
Bruce Lee shrugs. "There is nothing much in this art. Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch; kick when you have to kick."
[["I can't punch and kick my way through a date, Bruce Lee."|conv0308]]
Bruce Lee stands up and gives you his best come-hither look. (Wow, Linda sure is one lucky lady.)
You get up from the couch. You've barely started taking a step towards him when you hear a whoosh and a crack and feel your face suddenly sting. Shocked, you fall back on the couch.
"Timing one's blows in boxing means the art of hitting the rival as he comes forward or perhaps is lured into coming forward. The good fighter seems to out-guess his adversary and, whenever possible, takes the initiative and influences the reaction of his opponent. Then, his actions are carried out purposefully and without hesitation. This requires confidence and no one - repeat, no one - can be a really heavy hitter through perfect timing unless he has complete faith in his own ability."
You did not expect to start this day going through Bruce Lee's Dating School of Hard Knocks.
[[Bruce Lee extends his hand to help you up.|conv0309]]
You reach out for Bruce Lee's hand. He deftly bats your hand aside, grabs your elbow, pulls you past him, and gets you in a bear hug.
"The intelligent fighter will never hesitate to change tactics in order to use the correct strokes to deal with his opponent. It must be plain by now that the fighter's decision to use any particular stroke must be influenced by his opponent's technique and method of fighting."
Bruce Lee picks you up and cradles you in his arms like a baby.
"To attack, you must study the adversary's weaknesses and strengths and take advantage of the former while avoiding the latter."
[["Okay, I get it, now put me down!"|conv0310]]
Bruce Lee puts you down. Wow, he made that look easy.
"While attacking, you should look as boldly aggressive as a beast of prey -- without becoming reckless -- in order to bring pressure at once upon the adversary's morale. Possess the eye of an eagle, the cunning of a fox, the agility and alertness of a cat with the courage, aggressiveness and fierceness of a panther, the striking power of a cobra and the resistance of a mongoose."
[["Thanks for the martial arts lesson, Bruce Lee, but I think I'm just tired of getting shot down."|conv0311]]
Bruce Lee ruffles your hair.
"You can never step in the same water twice, my friend. Like flowing water, life is perpetual movement. There is nothing fixed. Whatever your problems happen to be in the future, remember well that they cannot remain stationary but must move together with your living spirit. Otherwise, you will drift into artificiality or attempt to solidify the ever-flowing. To avoid that, you must change and be flexible. Remember, the use of a cup is in its emptiness."
Okay, you kind of like that one.
"Success is when preparation meets opportunity. Opportunities may come your way or they may not. Luck may come your way or it may not. But if they come your way -- and you call that luck -- you'd better be ready for it!"
[["*sigh*...Thanks, Bruce Lee."|conv0312]]
You get dressed and go pick up some groceries at Ralph's. While you're waiting in line, you hear a voice behind you.
You turn around to find that the owner of the voice is making fun of your grocery selection. You respond in kind, and the banter is good enough that you forget one of your bags of food in the checkout aisle. They chase after you in the parking lot and trade the groceries for your number.
Bruce Lee's voice echoes in your mind on your way back to the apartment. When you get back, Bruce Lee gives you a knowing look as he helps you unload the groceries.
[[Maybe there's something to this.|conv0400]]
<p align="center"><h3>[[Chapter four: Muddy water clear|conv0401]]
You get home from work and you're pissed. You've been busting your butt lately to try and get yourself into position to Make Some Moves, and blah blah blah that guy said this thing in this meeting that you just can't believe blah blah blah you're worried about how your work is being represented to others blah blah blah ugh.
Bruce Lee is sitting in the living room, listening to the radio and doing one-handed pushups.
"Man I have just had the worst day blah blah blah ugh."
Bruce Lee listens patiently to your whole story.
[["So what do you think I should do?"|conv0402]]
Bruce Lee ponders your situation for a second.
"There is nothing that will enable you to pursue your course in greater peace than the patient bearing of insult. Patience is not passive, on the contrary, it is concentrated strength."
[["I get what you're saying, but I just feel like I need to do something."|conv0403]]
Bruce Lee nods.
"Who is there that can make muddy water clear? But if allowed to remain still, it will become clear of itself. Who is there that can secure a state of absolute repose? But keep calm and let time go on, and the state of repose will gradually arrest."
[["You're right, I guess. I'm just worried about this, and I've been thinking about it all day trying to figure out the right path."|conv0404]]
"Why add the tension of emotion/thought to a situation which is illusion, to the extent that it is real, of a passing moment (in any event, the result of previous causes)? Do what seems wise to be done, forget it, and walk on. Walk on and see a new view. Walk on and see the birds fly. Walk on and leave behind all things that would dam up the inlet, or clog the outlet, of experience."
Bruce Lee walks over to the kitchen and makes two cups of tea -- not the usual brew, though, given the mild smell of cannabis. He chuckles as he hands you a cup. He's holding his usual purple mug.
"One who is possessed by worry not only lacks the poise to solve his own problems, but by his nervousness and irritability creates additional problems for this around him."
Somehow he knew that was just what you needed.
[["...Far out, man."|conv0405]]
The two of you go up to the rooftop. The sun is setting on top of Santa Monica.
"It just feels...like I should push back, or something, you know?"
Bruce Lee is doing some slow, graceful tai chi-lookin' movements.
"There is another bit of Chinese philosophy that has a bearing on problems common to all humankind. We say, 'The oak tree is mighty, yet it will be destroyed by a mighty wind because it resists the elements; the bamboo bends with the wind, and by bending, survives.'"
[["But how am I supposed to get anywhere if I stay passive?"|conv0406]]
Bruce Lee's hands continue to move in almost mesmerizing patterns. He's not looking at you. Or anything, really.
"There was a fine butcher who used the same knife year after year, yet it never lost its delicate, precise edge. After a lifetime of service, it was still as useful and effective as when it was new. When asked how he had preserved his knife's fine edge, he said, 'I follow the line of the hard bone. I do not attempt to cut it, nor to smash it, nor to contend with it in any way. That would only destroy my knife.' In daily living, one must follow the course of the barrier. To try to assail it will only destroy the instrument. And no matter what some people will say, barriers are not the experience of any one person, or any group of persons. They are the universal experience."
[[You feel like he's got more to say.|conv0407]]
Bruce Lee steps, pivots his hips, and slowly swings his leg out. It's a roundhouse kick, except he's performing it in slow motion, with complete control at all times.
"Be like water; water has form and yet it has no form. It is the softest element on earth, yet it penetrates the hardest rock. It has no shape of its own, yet it can take any shape in which it is placed. In a cup, it becomes the shape of the cup. In a vase, it takes the shape of the vase and curls about the stems of flowers. Put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Please observe the adaptability of water. If you squeeze it fast, the water will flow out quickly. If you squeeze it slowly, it will come out slowly. Water may seem to move in contradiction, even uphill, but it chooses any way open to it so that it may reach the sea. It may flow swiftly or it may flow slowly, but its purpose is inexorable, its destiny sure."
As he finishes his sentence, he finishes the kick. You feel a little better. Bruce Lee seems to have a knack for that.
[["We're always talking about me. What's going on with you?"|conv0408]]
Bruce Lee sighs.
"I would like to evolve into different roles, but I cannot do so in Southeast Asia. I am already typecast. I am supposed to be the good guy. I can't even be a bit gray, because no producer would let me. Besides, I can't even express myself fully on film here, or the audience wouldn't understand what I am talking about half the time."
You hadn't thought of that. You weren't sure what to expect from Bruce Lee as a person, but just living with him for a week has given you some insight into the kind of man he is -- and how much of that isn't picked up on-screen.
[["How'd you end up doing this, anyway?"|conv0409]]
"I never wanted a job in an office or any job that I had to work eight hours a day at -- day in and day out. I don't think I could have stood it. I'm not the type of guy who can sit in the office doing the same routine day in and day out. I have to do something that is creative and interesting to me."
[["Are you the best martial artist out there?"|conv0410]]
Bruce Lee just shrugs.
"The important thing is that I am personally satisfied with my work. If it is a piece of junk, I will only regret it."
[["Okay, but level with me. You're the hottest thing in kung fu flicks, and your students are winning all the karate tournaments. Are you the best?"|conv0411]]
Bruce Lee laughs and stretches his arms to the sky.
"Well, if I tell you I'm good, probably you will say I'm boasting; but if I tell you I'm no good, you'll know I'm lying. I have the absolute confidence not to be number two, but then I have enough sense also to realize that there can be no number one."
From that arm-stretched-pose, he folds forward into a handstand.
[["I've never met someone who knows himself so well. How did you develop that?"|conv0412]]
He continues speaking from the handstand.
"All in all, the goal of my planning and doing is to find the true meaning in life -- peace of mind. In order to achieve this peace of mind, the teaching of detachment of Taoism and Zen proved to be valuable."
You think back to the last week at work.
[["Detachment sounds nice."|conv0413]]
He turns his head in the handstand position to look at you.
"In order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature. Everybody has to think for himself."
He pushes down into the handstand.
"A right way for a big man may not be a right way for a small man. A right way for someone who is slow may not be a right way for someone who is quick. Each person must understand his weaknesses and strengths."
His arms push back out, springing him back upright. He lands on his feet without breaking eye contact.
"Independent inquiry is needed in your search for truth, not dependence on anyone else's view or a mere book."
The sky has long since darkened by now, leaving only the glow of the moon and the city lights around you. The two of you retire to your rooms for the evening.
You mull over the conversation, and the events of the week prior. Something about talking with Bruce Lee just leaves you inspired. You'd love to think of your life as a search for truth instead of an unending grind from boredom to boredom.
[[But it's getting late. Better luck tomorrow.|conv0500]]
<p align="center"><h3>[[Chapter Five: Diamonds and leaves|conv0501]]
Over the next few months, the cutie you met at the Ralph's became the cutie who stays over sometimes, who then became the not-sure-how-serious-this-is-sweetheart. You've spent all this time wishing you'd find someone, and you did, which makes you happy; but you're not sure if this someone is the right someone. You don't want to go back to the misery of singledom, but you don't know if replacing that with the misery of is-this-the-right-person-or-not is any better.
You're in kind of a strange place right now. [[Better ask Bruce Lee.|conv0502]]
Bruce Lee is in his room, studying what appears to be a nutrition and dietary science textbook. You start to unload on him. He turns to you, still seated, and scoffs.
"Nothing is less sincere than our mode of giving and asking advice. He who asks seems to have deference for the opinion of his friend, while he only aims to get approval of his own and make his friend responsible for his action. And he who gives repays the confidence supposedly placed in him by a seemingly disinterested zeal, but he seldom means anything by his advice but his own interest or reputation. When a man seeks your advice he generally wants your praise."
[["It's not like that, Bruce Lee. Give it to me straight."|conv0503]]
You ask what Bruce Lee thinks of your not-so-significant other.
"What I detest most are dishonest people who talk more than they are capable of doing and also people who use false humility as a means to cover their obnoxious inadequacy."
By that standard, you conclude that Bruce Lee detests at least 80% of LA.
[["That's just kind of how they are, though..."|conv0504]]
Bruce Lee frowns.
"I've always been buffeted by circumstances because I thought of myself as a human being [affected by] outside conditioning. Now I realize that I am the power that commands the feeling of my mind and from which circumstances grow."
[["I just kind of feel like I can't really talk to them about this."|conv0505]]
"If you have any difficulties in communication with somebody, look for your resentment. Whenever you feel guilty, find out what you are resenting and express it and make your demand explicit."
You hadn't expected Bruce Lee to be a relationship guru as well as a martial arts master, but on second thought, maybe the two have a lot in common after all.
[["I just...I don't know if I can handle being single again, Bruce Lee."|conv0506]]
Bruce Lee shakes his head.
"True friends are like diamonds, precious and rare. False friends are like autumn leaves, found everywhere."
[["So, if you were back on the market, how would you do it?"|conv0507]]
Bruce Lee sits back in his chair to think.
"Courtship is not always the proper prelude to marriage. During courtship, two people who are attracted to each other seek exciting things to do. They go dancing, they dine at fine restaurants, go to museums. They get to know all the diversions in their particular geographic locality, but they do not get to know one another."
He nods to himself.
"Let friendship creep gently to a height; if it rushes to it, it may soon run itself out of breath."
[["I guess you really have to be friends with your partner, huh."|conv0508]]
"My wife and I aren't one and one. We are two halves that make a whole. You have to apply yourself to be a family -- two halves fitted together are more efficient than either half would ever be alone!"
That sounds nice. You'd like to have that.
[["Tell me about Linda."|conv0509]]
Bruce Lee smiles wistfully. It must be rough on them, being apart so much.
"A very important person I like to thank. A quality human being in her own right: giving, loving, stalwart, understanding this animal, Bruce Lee. And letting him simply be. My companion in our separate but intertwined pathways of growth, a definite enricher of my life, the woman I love; and, fortunately for me, my wife."
[["What are you two like together?"|conv0510]]
"The quality in Linda that moves me is her unconditional love for me. She treats our relationship with calmness and objectivity, and without conditions. I think this is the kind of attitude that a couple should adopt. For example, if I state a point, my wife will express her ideas on it. Certainly we ought to discuss things or it would be difficult for us to get along well."
You sigh. It's nice to have somebody you can share meals with and fuck, but everything Bruce Lee describes in Linda is something you want -- and something you're not going to get from the-cutie-from-Ralph's.
[[You decide to break it off.|conv0511]]
A few days, a few hard conversations, and a few rounds of breakup sex later, you're single again.
Bruce Lee comes home to find you sobbing into the couch. He sits down and gently rubs your back.
"Loneliness is only an opportunity to cut adrift and find yourself. In solitude you are least alone. Make good use of it."
"A goal is not always meant to be reached. It often serves simply as something to aim at."
"Sorrows are our best educator. A man can see further through a tear than a telescope."
Bruce Lee hands you a pack of tissues.
Bruce Lee hands you another pack of tissues and pats you again on the shoulder.
"To me, defeat in anything is merely temporary, and its punishment is but an urge for me to greater effort to achieve my goal. Defeat simply tells me that something is wrong in my doing; it is a path leading to success and truth."
[["Th...thanks, Bruce Lee."|conv0517]]
Bruce Lee smiles.
"Life is an ever-flowing process and somewhere on the path some unpleasant things will pop up -- it might leave a scar, but then life is flowing, and like running water, when it stops it grows stale. Go bravely on, my friend, because each experience teaches us a lesson. Keep blasting because life is such that sometimes it is nice and sometimes it is not."
You pick yourself up, throw away your tissue trash, and go back to your lonely single bed. [[You're sad, but you feel a little better.|conv0600]]
<p align="center"><h3>[[Chapter six: The end for heroes|conv0601]]
Your life is going pretty well. Work is kicking your butt, but in a good way; you are stressed by having to do things that challenge you, at least.
You finish the last of your work. It's Friday; time to head home and hang out with Bruce Lee. [[You've made a weekly ritual of cannabis-tea-and-brownies-on-the-roof.|conv0602]]
Bruce Lee sees the stress written on your face.
"Remember, my friend, to enjoy your planning as well as your accomplishment, for life is too short for negative energy."
You've been caught up in the rather heady feeling of good-work-stress that you hadn't thought about it as negative energy, but when you think about it, you might have been a little snippy lately at work.
[["Thanks, Bruce Lee."|conv0603]]
Bruce Lee continues.
"My friend, do think of the past in terms of the memories of events and accomplishments which were pleasant, rewarding, and satisfying. The present? Well, think of it in terms of challenges and opportunities, and the rewards available for the application of your talents and energies. As for the future, that is a time and a place where every worthy ambition you possess is within your grasp."
[["I guess I've been so caught up on getting ahead at work that I haven't been thinking much about whether it was work I wanted to do."|conv0604]]
"That we pursue something passionately does not always mean we really want it or have a special aptitude for it. Often, the thing we pursue most passionately is but a substitute for the one thing we really want and cannot have. It is usually safe to predict that the fulfillment of an excessively cherished desire is not likely to still our nagging anxiety. In every passionate pursuit, the pursuit counts more than the object pursued."
You suppose you've grown from your push to get ahead at work, but you haven't thought much about what kind of life you want for yourself.
You look at Bruce Lee and you wonder if he's ever had anything less than complete conviction in what he wants in life and why. He's a movie star and a martial arts master, after all.
[["What kind of life do you want for yourself, Mr. Martial Arts Master Movie Star?"|conv0605]]
Bruce Lee laughs.
"A simple life is one of plainness, in which profit is discarded, cleverness abandoned, selfishness eliminated, and desires reduced. It is the life of perfection which seems to be incomplete, and of fullness which seems to be empty. It is the life which is as bright as light, but does not dazzle. In short, it is a life of harmony, unity, contentment, tranquility, constancy, enlightenment, peace, and long life."
[["A simple life like that until the end, huh?"|conv0606]]
"I don't know what is the meaning of death, but I am not afraid to die -- and I go on, non-stop, going forward. Even though I, Bruce Lee, may die some day without fulfilling all of my ambitions, I will have no regrets. I did what I wanted to do and what I've done, I've done with sincerity and to the best of my ability. You can't expect much more from life."
[["That seems a little underwhelming. Don't you think about your legacy? What you'll leave behind?"|conv0607]]
Bruce Lee shakes his head.
"Through the ages, the end for heroes is the same as for ordinary men. They all died and gradually faded away in the memory of man."
The sky is a beautiful gradient of orange and purple. It's the Los Angeles special sunset, famous on postcards.
[[Bruce Lee throws you an envelope.|conv0608]]
It's a letter from his agent; he's moving over to Hong Kong to work on a new film called <em>Enter the Dragon</em>. Hollywood is involved, too. Sounds like a big deal.
You sigh deeply. You knew this would happen eventually, but in such a short time you felt like Bruce Lee became one of your best friends.
[["So that's it, huh. You're leaving?"|conv0609]]
Bruce Lee leans in and gives you a big hug.
"Here now, forever more our lives must part. My path leads there and yours another way; I know not where tomorrow's path may lead, nor what the future holds."
[[You spend the rest of the night hanging out, including a late-night stoned In-n-Out run.|conv0610]]
Bruce Lee packs his things and leaves first thing in the morning. You wake up just in time to see him off.
"I have to leave now, my friend. You have a long journey ahead of you, and you must travel light. From now on, drop all your burden of preconceived conclusions behind, and open yourself to everything and everyone ahead. Remember, my friend, the usefulness of a cup is in its emptiness."
[[Bruce Lee is no longer your roommate.|conv0611]]
Bruce Lee writes you a few postcards over the next few months. You respond, but you're never sure if he's getting them, because he keeps changing addresses. You're too busy to rent out the room to anyone else, so it stays untouched. You haven't been in there since he left.
One day, you wake up to a phone call. It's your college buddy who set you two up as roommates. He tells you to turn on the TV.
[[The day is July 20th, 1973.|conv0612]]
The news reporter is saying that Bruce Lee died of a cerebral edema. You're stunned. You knew he had some back problems, but other than that, he seemed perfectly healthy.
Later news reports would attribute his cause of death to an allergic reaction to some painkillers he was taking.
You feel tears welling in your eyes.
[[You decide to go into his empty room.|conv0613]]
(set: $checkBed to false)
(set: $checkDresser to false)
(set: $checkDesk to false)
(if: $checkBed is false or $checkDresser is false or $checkDesk is false)[You're not sure what you expect to find here besides an empty room. The [[bed|conv0614a]] is stripped, the [[desk|conv0614b]] is bare, and the [[dresser|conv0614c]] is cleaned out.]
(if: $checkBed is true and $checkDresser is true and $checkDesk is true)[You weren't sure what you expected to find, but whatever it was, you didn't find it.
[[Maybe some tea will calm you down.|conv0615]] ]
Nothing is left on the bed except a pair of your old bedsheets.
[[You look somewhere else.|conv0613]]
(set: $checkBed to true)
The desk has gathered a little dust in Bruce Lee's absence. You remember seeing him spend hours here every night, drawing and writing in his notebooks. You check the drawers but find nothing.
[[You look somewhere else.|conv0613]]
(set: $checkDesk to true)
You wonder if maybe he left something in the dresser. You check all the drawers. No dice.
[[You look somewhere else.|conv0613]]
(set: $checkDresser to true)
You open up the kitchen cabinet. You haven't been home much -- work is busy, and with no Bruce Lee at home you've found yourself staying later at the office -- and so the contents of the cabinet are in a slight state of disarray that you don't recognize as your own.
[[There's something in the back that looks familiar.|conv0616]]
You see something dark and purple in the back of the cabinet. You reach in and rummage around a bit to pull it out. It's Bruce Lee's University of Washington mug. There's a small piece of paper in it.
[[You unfold the piece of paper.|conv0617]]
It is not how much you have learned, but how much you have absorbed in what you have learned -- the best techniques are the simple ones executed right.
<p align="right"> Your friend,
<p align="center">[[The end|ending]]
<p align="center">Bruce Lee is Your Roommate
By <a href="http://www.twitter.com/pattheflip">Patrick Miller</a> and <a href="http://www.twitter.com/kohquette">Irene Koh</a>.
<p align="left">All of Bruce Lee's "lines" in this short story are direct quotes from his books <i>The Tao of Jeet Kune Do</i> and <i>Striking Thoughts</i>, or one of his lines from his movies. I highly recommend checking them out; you can buy his books and some other neat merchandise at <a href="http://brucelee.shop.sportstoday.com/dept/essential-books?cp=51324_53770_53768">the official store</a>, which helps support the <a href="http://bruceleefoundation.org/">Bruce Lee Foundation</a>.
If you felt like you got something out of reading this short story, please buy something from the store, or make a direct donation to the Bruce Lee Foundation, which offers scholarships to students who "exemplify Bruce Lee's passion for education as well as his qualities of forward thought and self-exploration."
(The Bruce Lee Foundation has no involvement or affiliation with the production of this story; I'm just a fan and think it's neat.)
Thanks for reading!
<h2>[[Chapter Three: Purposefully and without hesitation|conv0301]]</h2>