These days, it helps to think about where things are going and how we can be part of steering them there. When you hear the phrase “go with the flow” it probably conjures up images of kicking back and letting fate take over. Not so. That would be more like “get lost in the flow” whereas going with it would make you more like a co-pilot. See the difference? The choice isn’t between trying to exercise control over events or giving in completely. Instead, we can be present for the reality of things around us (including that which feels beyond our control), while being in a relationship with those events in order to be part of how they unfold. Doing little things — like slowing down, breathing, and unplugging — can help.
There are many ways to express these thoughts, but the simple mantra of going with the flow is a good place to start and serves as an effective reminder. Times are tough and likely will only get tougher in the days ahead; we can be with the flow of events without letting them overtake us completely. It’s good to be reminded of such things, as Norman Maclean observed in the acclaimed book by the same name: “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” And as Utah Phillips offered (incorporated into the song “Bridges” with Ani DiFranco):
Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through and everything they gave their lives to, and every song they created, and every poem that they laid down flows down to me — and if I take the time to ask, and if I take the time to see, and if I take the time to reach out, I can build that bridge between my world and theirs. I can reach down into that river and take out what I need to get through this world.
Need more evidence? In New Zealand, a river can actually be considered a “legal person” for purposes of securing rights of protection and integrity. (This is indeed promising, and it would be even more so if a person could likewise be declared a river — perhaps someday!) This is all about respecting what has come before, where we are now, and what comes next. Don’t take our word for it — these folks from the Stone Age have something to say about it all:
Look, we can spend hours ruminating on the power of the flow, and water allusions are palpable in life and literature. In the interest of time (which, btw, is running out as we speak) let’s skip ahead to the appendix and get serious about this for a change. SLOW DOWN! BREATHE! UNPLUG! All we are saying is go with the flow, and give inner peace a chance. We’ll see you down where the river bends…
Go With the Flow