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Thursday, April 7, 2011

F is for Flow

We live in a world of artifical linearity- one in which we are immersed from birth in the idea that This follows That, without fail, where the relentless forward path of time, of cause and effect, are the chains that drag us, sometimes kicking and screaming, along a predestined course of events that begins with birth and ends inevitably in a grave.

I am here to tell you that this preset path, this idea of unchangeable circumstances that plunge headlong, pointlessly, from conception to termination, is a lie.

There is another way, another choice, and it begins with Flow.

Flow is the idea that there IS a natural way for things to progress from one state to another, but it is not the cold, arithmetic cumulation of Action and Reaction, of quid pro quo; it's the intuitive, spirit-driven course where you actually have three choices: the Safe thing, the Good thing, and the Right thing.

The Safe thing is just what it sounds like- ironically enough, it's often called "going with the flow," but I will distinguish between "going with the flow" and "Flow" here in a moment. The fact is, the Safe thing is almost never Good, nor Right. Why? Because the Safe thing is usually the path we choose when we're afraid- afraid of change, of growth, of challenge. Afraid to evolve. So we choose what (seems to) hurt the least. In the end, though, the damage done from choosing to be Safe is orders of magnitude greater than any bumps and bruises we might have earned by getting our hands dirty. Safe is the "clean" way, the easy way. Safe is the empty way.

What about the difference between Good and Right? There's a touchy subject if there ever was one. Have you ever known something, but chosen deliberately NOT to share what you knew because it would hurt someone? You just chose Good instead of Right. Dishonesty is always a slippery slope, but have you ever told a white lie to avoid upsetting someone, or avoid causing a much worse conflict? There you go again, choosing Good over Right. Flip the coin, though- have you ever lashed out at someone, and said something that was perfectly true and completely factual, which you KNEW would wound them, would upset them? You chose Right rather than Good.

Deciding between Right and Good is very rarely cut and dry, and even more rarely is it easy... but it's a choice that we do have. How does this all relate to Flow? Extend the idea a little, and think of flow charts- a series of decisions that change the direction a path takes through a set of alternatives, be they challenges, ideas, or what have you. It's counter-intuitive to think of Flow from such a "logical" point of view, but the metaphor works, at least on the surface.

The heart of Flow is recognizing the natural order of things in the world you live in, and moving, acting in a manner harmonious with that order, with those patterns. "Going with the flow" refers to conforming to and abiding by the artificial construct put in place by a culture, a society out of touch with it's identity. Flow means knowing who you are, and making your choices based on how You interact with the World.

Take a day, and try to be keenly aware of the choices you make from moment to moment- the things you say, the reactions you have to others, all the little mannerisms and idiosyncracies  that "make you, you." Are they really "yours"? Or are they cultural inculcations, seeds planted throughout your life that are blooming in the soil of your mind, your heart? Is that your garden, growing there, or someone elses?

I can only speak for myself, but it's a rare day that goes by when I don't catch myself at least once reacting in a way that, when I really look at it, is in conflict with my genuine nature... and that, in the end, is what Flow is all about: being the genuine You. Knowing yourself, and honoring your identity. When you know who you are, no one else can tell you what to do, and when you listen to your own inner voice, choosing between Safe, Good, and Right... well, it doesn't become any more comfortable, not really, but it can become a little easier.


  1. I'm really enjoying being able to stop in each morning for my daily bit of "Spider Wisdom." Thank you for weaving such a beautiful perspective on flow. :)

  2. Thank your for giving me a different perspective of flow. By seeing and hearing different perspectives, I have things to think on that inevitably help me to evolve. :)

  3. The one part of this whole piece that really jumped up and bit me on the ass was - "Are they really "yours"? Or are they cultural inculcations, seeds planted throughout your life that are blooming in the soil of your mind, your heart? Is that your garden, growing there, or someone elses?" I must take some time and really ponder this, Spider. There are times I suspect, that I may well be tending some other folks' plants in my garden and some of them might just be WEEDS!! Oh Lort! Thanks for making my tiny brain do its pushups. Love ya bro!!

  4. WOW WOW WOW fantastic blog!!! WOW WOW WOW this one is going to make me think for weeks!! I love the last paragraph I may have to print this out and put it on my fridge if you dont mind!! :)

  5. Lori: by all means, please, if it benefits you (or anyone else) post, copy, spread, share, do whatever you need or want to.

    I'm not writing this for Me. I'm writing it for Everyone. Thank you all for your comments; it's good to know that I'm hitting close to home.

    Namaste, Tribe.