Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Go With the Flow

It's a familiar admonishment: “Just go with the flow.” But if you've ever tried navigating down stream, you know it's not always as easy as it sounds.

Simply finding your place within the flow can be a challenge. There are many currents and eddies hidden in a river that, at first glance, appears to be flowing in a single direction. Get caught in one of these and you may find yourself beached on the shore, being dragged along the rocky bottom, or spinning endlessly in a mini maelstrom. If you are fortunate enough to find the right current, that doesn't guarantee smooth sailing. You must continually adjust, as the water's course is altered by terrain, time and clime. Even then, it can still lead you through rough waters.

Attempting to “go with the flow” is not an exercise for the faint of heart.

Should you choose to try to “go with the flow,” you may find that you do not end up where you'd originally been planning to go. When you truly “go with the flow,” in fact, you give up the concepts of “planning” and “destination” entirely. You accept that you are not the pilot of your own ship, but a passenger on this river of life. You surrender your will, your desires, your ego to the “will” of something greater than yourself.

For most of us, actually letting go of our “plans” is terrifying. It is comforting, empowering to believe that we actually have some measure of control over how our lives play out. In truth, however, we are truly all adrift on the flow of history like so much fragile, human flotsam.

It is true that some people will find themselves in an enviable position in the current of events, manage to maintain it, and, thus, appear to have “achieved their goals.” Many of us, though, find ourselves navigating more challenging waters, alternately finding and losing the drift over the course of our lives.

To “go with the flow,” is to embrace your fate rather than rail against it. It is letting go of expectation, blame, recrimination, and pride. It requires you to be more accepting of failure and success in others and in yourself. It means recognizing that none of us is truly in control of his own destiny. It is to understand that there is really only one ultimate destination in the course of our lives and the ride is all that matters.

Today's exercise: Go with the flow.

Next: Maybe something in honor of International Beer Day on August 5. (Yet another reason to love Santa Cruz, CA...) 


  1. I try to go with the flow. While navigating that river, I've found it helps if you bring a raft. And some friends to help out in the rough spots. And a wee bit of alcohol sometimes makes the rocky bottom scrapes not so painful.

    "The ride is all that matters." Amen.

  2. What you essentially talk about is humbleness and the ability to deal with the cards you've been dealt. But I believe that a strong mind forges its own destiny, simply because we would have no purpose otherwise.