Flow – where the reeds meet the river

When the rains begin, railing against them doesn’t stop the deluge.

This is the essence of Fluidity – to know when something is inevitable and work out how to flow.  It is a key to survival, to turning things to one’s own ends, to furthering one’s spiritual journey.

Flow is the ability to size up a situation, or an obstacle, and work out how to best move through it.  The name conjures (for me) the idea of water moving through a rocky stream bed – water will go over, under, around, or through whatever blocks it.  If we can learn to do this too, if we can flow, everything becomes potential.

I learned to flow by observing the Brandywine River.  Where I grew up, the river was a short walk down the hill from my home, and I’d spend hours wandering the woods nearby.  I watched the water move smoothly through clear spots only to become almost “considering” when rocks or dead-falls interrupted its path.  But, it continued to move forward regardless of what attempted to interrupt it.

Without realizing it, I started trying to apply the flow of the river to my everyday actions.  At first it started simply and selfishly – I learned what people around me expected and showed it to them to get what I wanted or needed.  Later, I learned to manipulate situations – I could blend into a group and not be noticed or I could stand out when it counted.  But it wasn’t until I had my son that I truly put flow to use.

Once I had a child, survival for him became paramount, and I was swamped in an inundation of obstacles: little to no money, no health care, no real housing.  I was having to choose between buying food for myself and food/diapers for my son. Finally, I sat down, looked at everything that was in my way, and decided to flow through it come (pardon the pun) hell or high water.

I decided that no obstacle could prevent me from keeping him healthy and happy.  I dodged and wove through bureaucracy and, when that failed, wore down the PTBs* with sheer determination.   I pushed where I had to, flattered those who required it, and jumped up and down screaming when all else failed.  I badgered a base commander and chaplain to enforce child support.  I gave up on the idea of living on my own and worked out a rent situation with my parents.  I stood in line for food stamps and Medicaid.  I took myself (finally) to therapy and got medication for my depression.  In short, I used flow to ensure we would survive…and it worked.

Since that time, flow has been the keystone of my personal path.   In my daily life (work, family, etc.) I have little need to use it but in my spiritual and religious practices it is always a constant.  One of my gods in particular is fond of putting choices in front of me and yelling, “MAKE A DECISION!!!”  With flow, those times are made more smooth; I know that I can make a decision and handle ultimately handle what comes next…even if it doesn’t seem like it.  I know that I can jump the cliff into the waterfall and get to the bottom without injury.

And, really, getting to the bottom is what it’s all about, isn’t it?

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2 responses to “Flow – where the reeds meet the river

    • I think it is easy to learn, but not to do. One could probably compare it to Othello – minutes to learn, but a lifetime to master. I’m still not there, though.

      I also don’t think everyone has to go through something earth-shattering to be able to ‘flow’ but it was an intense practice session.

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