The Illusion of Control

Standing under a blossoming peach tree, Master Shifu cannot fathom how Po, an untrained panda, is supposed to defeat the great enemy fast approaching the Jade Palace.

“My old friend,” his mentor Oogway says, “the panda will never fulfill his destiny, nor you yours, until you let go of the illusion of control.”


“Look at this tree, Shifu. I cannot make it blossom when it suits me, nor make it bear fruit before its time.”

“But there are things we can control,” the clever Master says. “I can control when the fruit will fall!” To prove his point, he kicks the tree, and peaches rain down from the sky. “I can control where to plant the seed! That is no illusion!”

“Ah, yes,” Oogway acknowledges. “But no matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple, or an orange — but you will get a peach.”

Ultimately, even the Master must admit that, right now, all he can do is trust that the peach is the right fruit at the right time, for the peach — or the panda, in this case — is the only fruit he’s got.

If control seems to elude you, maybe the situation is not one you’re meant to control. Pause in your conversation with fate. Perhaps it’s time to listen rather than speak.

Another kung fu master once said: “Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it.”

When control becomes an illusion, let go of it. Sometimes, we really wish for an apple, but all we’ll get is a peach. It’s not always easy to give up the path we hoped to take in order to walk on the path that is meant for us, but as long as we have time to eat a fruit in peace, there’s no reason to doubt we’ll arrive at the right destination.

Be water, my friend.