Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Going With The Flow

I've grown up less than a few miles from the great Ohio River my entire life. When I was 5 or 6 my grandfather and I would walk to the dam and look for tennis balls, golf balls, and any thing else that would wash ashore or back up behind the locks. I've watched barges carrying loads of black coal and shiny steel up and down, through the locks and dam to some unknown destination. My grandfather used to walk my brother and I to the rocky shores not far from my great-grandmother's house after Sunday family dinners. There on that shore we learned how to skip stones and we would watch the sun sink behind the hills. More than once I've seen the mighty river overflow her banks leaving damage, destruction, and despair in her wake. Giving and taking. Calming and conquering. Never stopping. Always moving onward. Free. Going with the flow.

In the past few days I overheard someone say "Mandy doesn't care, she just goes with the flow." At first, I gave the statement no thought. Its no secret, I generally have a laid back, care free attitude. Sometimes people confuse my laid back attitude with being apathetic or indifferent, which really isnt the case at all (well, with most things).

"Going with the flow" doesn't mean I just kick back in my boat and throw my oars overboard. It means that I go with the current, rather than struggle against it. It doesnt mean that I don't have goals. I do, but for me, I don't have a clear cut path there. Instead, like the river, I might meander off course, change my destination or overflow the banks but I have no doubt I'll eventually get to where I am supposed to be. It means that I don't cling to things that don't work for me just because its something that I am "supposed" to do. I have many friends who have done what they thought they were supposed to do and it didnt work for them; but instead of getting out of that situation, some of them struggle and fight against it, usually very unhappily. In life, letting go and changing your plans is part of the process. We cannot control every aspect of our lives.

A Taoist story tells of an old man who accidentally fell into the river rapids leading to a high and dangerous waterfall. Onlookers feared for his life. Miraculously, he came out alive and unharmed downstream at the bottom of the falls. People asked him how he managed to survive. "I accommodated myself to the water, not the water to me. Without thinking, I allowed myself to be shaped by it. Plunging into the swirl, I came out with the swirl. This is how I survived."

Learn to go with the flow, rather than resisting it. Trust that the big river of your life has a plan for you and let it carry you onward. Throw overboard those things that are weighing you down. Be open to revising your maps. If there is an obstacle in your path, find a way around it. Slow down, veer off course, overflow your banks. Take a deep breath and move into the current.


Andy said...

*Deep post*
I also tend to be laid back, not because I'm lazy (well, that SOMETIMES has something to do with it), but because I tend to dissociate from conflicts and to indifferently go along with other people's wishes. I don't like to drown myself on a glass of water. I normally take problems as they come, and whether avoid them or treat them.

Rachel said...

I am mainly a control freak but every once in a while I surprise myself and go with the flow. Right now I am both, I'm trying to control the planning of my birthday and in the middle of this a friend has "dumped" me and I'm just chilling about it. It's a little weird and bipolar-ish

Mandy said...

Andy -- I tend to disassociate too.

Rachel -- I hope the planning of your bday goes well and am sorry to hear you were "dumped."

Trina G. said...

Love the pictures. We live on the Columbia river and I take it for granted, so thank you for the pic's. it made me be thankful for the beauty where we live.

You are kick ass!