Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Flow

To "go with the flow" is generally understood to mean moving in concert with prevailing trends.

A person who follows this philosophy might be seen as mellow, agreeable, a good team player. Or, alternately, could be viewed as unimaginative, lazy, lacking in leadership qualities.

Singer Enya yearns to sail on the Orinoco Flow, which she hopes will "Carry me on the waves to the lands I’ve never seen." In this case, the flow, or current, offers the opportunity for movement and, ultimately, change.

The National Weather Service has advice for those who are trapped in a strong current and wish to break free:
  • Try to remain calm to conserve energy.
  • Don't fight the current.
  • Think of it like a treadmill you can't turn off. You want to step to the side of it.
  • Swim across the current in a direction following the shoreline.
  • When out of the current, swim and angle away from the current and towards shore.
  • If you can't escape this way, try to float or calmly tread water. Rip current strength eventually subsides offshore. When it does, swim towards shore.
  • If at any time you feel you will be unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself: face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.
Valuable counsel, no matter what type of "flow" you are fighting against.

Senator Robert F. Kennedy described a powerful yet positive current in a speech at the Day of Affirmation, University of Capetown, South Africa:
"Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation...
It is from the numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man (or a woman) stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he (or she) sends a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

The flow can be a positive or a negative. How we deal with life's currents is, fundamentally, a very personal decision.

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

Thank you to Marie Coleman, whose photograph and comments suggested the topic of this posting.

"Streaming" by makelessnoise


Lona said...

Very thoughtfully put, Diane. I'd like to add a couple of thoughts to your idea of "the flow". Both are from Lao Tzu, founder of Taoism/Daoism. He is attributed with the idea that water, though weak, can through its flow conquer the strong. I also like this quote, "If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are headed." When it's time to change, we must not try to withstand the natural ways.

diane said...


Thank you - I've never seen those quotes before. I've been known to "make waves" and "march to a different drummer." But I hope I've learned to consider carefully and not be disruptive just for the fun of it.

A prime example of beneficial flow has been my whole experience with PLNs. The community has introduced me to many new ideas and carried me along with them on a most interesting journey.

Debbie said...

Oh Diane - what timely words this time of year as here at my house we re-adjust to the flow of life at school with a 3rd grader and a 5th grader.

Every other year, it has felt like I've been fighting a rip tide which leaves me half drowned. I hope this year I can learn to float a little and "go with the flow" to a place of greater peace and happiness for myself and my family.

And of course, here YOU are on the opposite end of the spectrum, learning to enjoy the potentially slower, more languid flow of the retirement river. But don't get too comfortable. I see some exciting rapids in your future yet! (-:

diane said...


Looking back at the time when my two children were in school, I realize that there were some instances when I should have let events unfold and others when I should have created a ruckus. But we all survived and thrived, as will your family.

I think I'm ready for a few rapids now :-)