Go With the Flow: Monday, August 24th

The earth spins in one direction. The mighty river does not reverse it’s course. Everyday I get a little bit older. Computers get small and faster every year.

All of these things are outside of my control. Why try and fight them?

When we orient ourselves against the natural order of things, we make life unreasonably difficult.

It’s like when a silly dog owner keeps a German Shepherd cooped up in the living room day after day. The dog won’t stop barking at cars. He won’t stop tearing things apart. It’s not the dog’s fault. He’s just trying to be himself, but the dog owner is expecting the German Shepherd to behave like a stuffed animal.

Or it’s like when a University tries to keep the boys and the girls separate from each other – to keep them from doing things that boys and girls do. The University makes it’s rules, it’s curfews, it’s laws, imposes these things with an iron fist. The problem is, those boys and girls can’t help but acting like boys and girls. No threat is great enough to counteract their nature. Those boys and girls will lie, defy, bribe, scratch, run, break windows, sneak around, devise complicated plots, stay up till all hours, perform impossible feats… they will find a way. Nobody is ever happy in this kind of scenario, neither the rule breakers or the rule makers. But the kids are just being themselves. The administrators are the ones pushing the boulder up the hill.

I guess maybe there are some battles worth fighting. But I’m not sure what they are. For this brief period of time that I’m a member of Team Universe on Planet Earth, I’d rather surf waves than fight to swim upstream.

I think this “go with the flow” advice can really help people in their everyday lives. I try to follow it myself but it isn’t easy.

There are universal trends, and there are also personal trends. Each of our unique personalities has a “flow”. We have strong currents and weak ones. We have natural tendencies that can’t be reversed.

Exercise is one of my favorite examples. We all know we should  exercise. But so few people actaully do it. Why? Because they haven’t found something they love, something they like, something that syncs with the flow of who they are as a person.

Running sucks. Lifting weights sucks. Only a small percentage of people in the world have the discipline to run on a treadmill everyday. But if we can find a sport we love, whether it’s slacklining or swimming or walking or tennis, then we won’t have to make ourselves exercise anymore. It’s a terrible cycle where we fall short on our goals, and then we feel guilty for falling short. Guilt is the second dagger, the one that kills.

It’s because we’re going against the flow, lying to ourselves that going to a gym 5 times a week isn’t so bad. It’ll never last of course.

In my relationships. In my work. In my hobbies. The way I eat and the way I sleep. I can always find areas where I’m working too hard. Where I’m going against the natural order of things. And then, instead of putting my head down and pressing on into the storm, I try to change directions to a better course.

***

Right now I’m working on my novel. That is, I’m working on the outlining and the plotting of my upcoming novel.

And whenever I get off course with the planning, whenever I fall behind, whenever I find that I’m uninterested, or that I’d rather do the dishes than work on the novel… whenever I get stuck, I try to remind myself to swim downstream again.

There’s no way I’ll ever finish a novel that I’m not excited about. I’ve tried before. It has to be something I care deeply about. It has to be drawn from my own emotional well. It has to feel like fun. Or else it’ll never work.

So that’s why I’m thinking about all this. I’m thinking about that compass that points to the magnetic center of my childhood soul. I try to go with the flow. I try to keep the needle pointed toward passion and away from work for work’s sake, at all costs.

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