August 31, 2021 9:28:11 am
Actor-martial artist Shannon Lee on Sunday said she wrote a book on her father Bruce Lee with an aim to share the untold stories and philosophies of the screen icon and martial arts legend with the world.
Shannon said the idea to pen Be Water, My Friend: The True Teachings of Bruce Lee stemmed from a podcast on her father that was started by the Bruce Lee Foundation, which she has been running for more than 20 years.
Shannon said the podcast — which clocked nearly 130 episodes and is still ongoing — focused on her father’s philosophy of life.
“During that process, I got so engaged with his words and philosophy because they have done so much for me, I wanted to share that. Through the podcast, I started talking to a literary agent and then they asked me if I would like to write a book.
“I was excited and nervous. But I felt the timing was perfect, I had been spending so much time with his philosophy and working on myself, so I said yes. It took a year to write the book. It was a beautiful journey. I was able to reflect on myself, my father,” she said during an online session of the Times Lit Fest 2021.
Shannon was in conversation with journalist Prasenjit Mund for the session titled, “Be Water, My Friend: Untold Stories of Bruce Lee”.
The book, which was published last year, is not about asking people to be like Bruce Lee but finding the quality to grow as human beings, she said.
“There is a bit of Bruce Lee in all of us. This book is not about trying to be Bruce Lee. He already did that. But it is about trying to find that quality in ourselves, wanting to grow and be the best versions of ourselves that we can be.
“I really enjoyed the process of writing the book. As challenging as it was, it really gave me confidence as a writer, made me want to write more and made me want to express myself more.”
Shannon, who lost her father when she was four years old, said she has discovered him mostly through his own words, apart from stories of his friends, students and mother, teacher-writer Linda Lee Cadwell.
Known for martial arts action films like “The Big Boss”, “Fist of Fury”, and the blockbuster hit “Enter the Dragon”, Bruce Lee had written his first book “Chinese Gung-Fu: The Philosophical Art of Self Defense” in 1963, with two more books released posthumously after his death in 1973. He died aged 32.
Shannon said what she remembers of him — the energy, dynamism, intensity and love — matches “so perfectly with his own thoughts and expressions”.
“I am so grateful that he wrote so much material, that I would have that to be able to match his own thoughts and feelings with what I remember of him. On top of that, get to sprinkle in all the human stories and qualities from the people who really knew him in an everyday sense.
“Like my mother, my martial arts teacher, his friends… Together it starts to build this picture of a man who had his ups and downs, successes and failures but who accomplished so much in such a short amount of time.”
But being the daughter of one of the greatest martial artists of all times comes with its own set of identity challenges, she added.
Shannon said from not wanting people to know Bruce Lee was her father to now managing his legacy, it has been “quite a journey”. Her elder brother was actor Brandon Lee, who died at the age of 28 in 1993.
“It has been a real challenge from a personal identity standpoint to figure out where I fit into all of this, without losing my identity to it entirely. I am always working on that and probably will for my whole life. But now that I am a mature woman, I am getting much more comfortable with who I am in the midst of all of this.
“Something like writing a book helped me do that. Even though it is about my father and his philosophies, it is also about me and it had to come through me,” she added.
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