I’ve heard it many times. Go with the flow and don’t waste your time paddling upstream. That way you’ll get to where you want to be faster and easier than if you were paddling against life’s natural drift, which can set you up for a life of challenge.
Sometimes a want for something is not within grasp and suddenly, that natural drift of life becomes a choppy ride as we reach for that desire. The boat rocks. Blackened branches from long gone trees jut out to force us to swerve to avert their danger and push us in directions we don’t want to be. Soon we’re caught in the turbulence of three rivers converging, their waters gushing in to stir up stagnant silt. A choice in direction must be made yet seeing which way to go is obscured by the rough waters.
So move with the natural flow of the stream I’m told. That could mean sailing past moss-laden green banks and unfurling fronds of ferns or banks dripping in lemon-scented eucalypts after day-long rain, or it could be barely moving on stagnant, brown water under a blaring hot sun where each breath in burns your nostrils. And sometimes it may be bouncing off rocks to become scarred by their immovable force, with currents imprisoning us in their rapids and throwing us in their turbulence where we can feel like we’re drowning. Because that IS life.
I’m told we must keep going. Go with the flow and don’t fight it. Keep your head above water, especially in those rapids. Follow your passions and move with them through the turbulence and winding rivers and appreciate every moment as you go for you’ll see some amazing and unexpected sights, even if you can’t see where you’re going. Follow those passions and dreams because they’re intrinsic to us. Follow them through and be grateful for the sunshine and light breeze that sail us forward. But clouds will form and storms will brew as they are as much part of this Earth as we are, and ride with those too.
The question is though, how do we know when it’s time to stop paddling against the stream, when it’s time to give up to rest our burning and weary shoulders and blistered and bleeding palms to paddle back downstream, even if the direction it will take us isn’t part of where we want to go?
How do we know that the rapids we’re riding aren’t part of our life journey, that they aren’t meant to be and it’s time to turn back, when we can’t see over the torrents or around the next bend in the river or the progress we’ve made if we look behind and we’re still in the bend?
I’m told we’ll know which way to go. We’ll feel it. We’ll have an inner knowing. I’m told everything is in its right purpose and time, that life is malleable material in our hands even when it may seem fairly immovable at times.
I think I’m at my rivers meeting point, trying to stay buoyant and constantly cleaning my glasses from the splodges of sediment obscuring my view of where I should take my work next. I know that is life and I suppose the turbulence and not seeing where to go is as necessary as listening to son one serenade son two on the guitar with Chuck Berry’s My Ding A Ling to wake him this Sunday morning. I like that part of my flow.
Maybe Chuck Berry knew how to move with the flow of life in his Ding A Ling song:
Now this here song it ain’t so bad
Prettiest little song that you ever had
And those of you who will not sing
must be playing with your own Ding-a-ling
Maybe we need to learn to sing as we move with the flow life.