Be Like Water

Earlier this week, I was thinking about Jerry's stated aim that we develop a "state of ease" with the things we do, and a memory from my time in Spain popped into my head.

In English, we talk of being fluent in something. In Spanish (Castilian, anyway), the idiomatic translation is con soltura. The English sentence, "I speak fluently," translates to, "Hablo con soltura." I've always liked the phrase. I understood it via what it evoked: soltura always conjured for me an ease of motion, kind of like someone comfortably grooving to music.

When this memory popped up, I sought a literal translation; Google Translate offered "looseness." So then "hablo con soltura" means literally, "I speak with looseness" or "I speak with ease."

As I thought more about it, I realized I didn't really know what "fluent" meant. I mean, I understand the word just fine. Obviously, I know when and how to use it. But most (all?) words like that, words that encapsulate a kind of complicated abstract concept, have an underlying implicit metaphor. And in the case of fluent, I couldn't figure out what it was.

So I went to the OED. Perhaps this should have been obvious, but fluent comes from the Latin word meaning to flow. (The same root gives us fluid.) Thus fluent means flowing, ready to flow, fluid.

Thus, through the Spanish phrase, con soltura, I find myself connecting the two languages: when you are doing something fluently, doing something con soltura, you are doing it with ease. You are doing it the way water flows.

"Do it easier" is an admonition Jerry often gives. I understand it better now.

Be like water.

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