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Just Go With the Flow

July 28, 2010

I used to hate the expression “Go with the flow.”

I hated that when people used it they were implying that I was too rigid or that there was something wrong with me wanting a plan. I especially disliked the type of people who normally said this. I often found these people to be lazy or afraid of accountability. They didn’t want to make a plan and they didn’t want to have to stick to one.

Hedonists, layabouts, people who were content to do nothing and go nowhere. I was offended by their lack of desire and even more offended that they weren’t being punished for just “going with the flow” and not accomplishing anything.

Besides, what does this phrase even mean? It means I just want to do nothing. Or I thought that’s what it meant. It’s been used so much that it is virtually meaningless. Until recently it just seemed to me to be a way of avoiding responsibility and not a very deep idea beyond that.

But, what is the flow that a person might go with? In a social situation this could mean not making any decisions and just following the crowd. It could mean becoming apathetic about the direction that anything might take.

For example, “I don’t really care what happens in my company. I just go with the flow.”

It always felt like a victim mentality to me. A desire not to affect but to simply be affected. An excuse really.

But, what if going with the flow just means letting go of our attachments to outcomes. Still having a plan, but not being devastated if everything doesn’t go as planned. Okay. I can get on board with that. There are definitely things in life we can’t control and trying to control them is pointless. And exhausting.

It’s obvious to me that some things that are deep and meaningful become trite and lose their power through repetition. Maybe the idea of “going with the flow” is one of these ideas. But clichés often become cliché because they are true – so, maybe we should all “go with the flow.”

But in order to do that we need to really know what the flow is.

What if the flow is something more than the things we can’t control. What if the flow is the inevitable. The infinite. The unchangeable. What if the flow is the energy that connects us all. The great flow that we can be a part of if we jump into ourselves and into the river. And just ride.

It isn’t apathy for the sake of irresponsibility. It isn’t hedonism for the sake oblivion. Instead it’s sensation for the sake of life and connection to ourselves and others. Other ones. Other things.

It’s talking to the flowers and telling them they are beautiful and feeling them tell you you’re beautiful in return. It’s breathing like the wind breathes for the earth. But you have to really tap into the flow.

Some of you think this sounds crazy. I know. If you can’t feel it yet, it does sound crazy. But think about it, isn’t the wind inside of you? If you empty yourself out and just feel, don’t you start to float when it blows?

Aren’t the trees swaying in the sun along with you – and you with them if you just stop and “go with the flow?” Are the birds really chirping…or are you? Are they just saying those feelings you haven’t been able to get out of your chest?

And didn’t the last campfire you sat at burn with you? Can it? Are you burning too – even though you’re ignoring the heat you produce. The power you control. The flicker of your spirit. Our spirit. The Holy Spirit. This one…

This flow.

Let go and you can go too…with the flow.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Jerrod permalink
    July 28, 2010 5:01 pm

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, “But, what if going with the flow just means letting go of our attachments to outcomes.” That’s always how I would define going with the flow. Yes, you can have a plan but if something happens to divert your path towards that plan, oh well, I’ll get through it. There are just so many things out of your control that can happen that it’s just not worth getting worked up over. Anyway, that’s how I’ve always thought of it.


    • July 28, 2010 5:33 pm

      So are you in “the flow?”


      • Jerrod permalink
        July 29, 2010 1:56 pm

        I sure try to. I’ve learned a lot from my bad choices and experiences these last few years. The serenity prayer kinda goes along with that, kinda.


  2. July 29, 2010 4:07 pm

    All set, I posted it on my blog. I think if you click on my name it takes you to the home page.


  3. July 29, 2010 4:08 pm

    Whoops, that was supposed to go on an earlier post. My bad.


  4. July 29, 2010 6:37 pm

    Yes, Sabotage.


  5. aaronlgreen permalink
    October 24, 2010 5:08 pm

    Since I am a new subscriber to your blog, I figured I would jump in the Archive Time Machine to see what other things you’ve shared with the world.

    This “Flow” is exactly as you speak. Is this article one of revelation during July, or something that you’ve kind of lived with and have finally decided to share?


    • October 25, 2010 9:37 am

      I appreciate you going back and looking at past posts. I personally think there is a lot of great stuff back there and I especially like this post. It was really hard to get the information out in any kind of understandable and thoughtful way so it is very satisfying to know that you appreciated (and understood) it.

      My ideas about “the flow” are something that have been developing min me for quite a while now. July was when they crystallized a bit more and I felt comfortable enough to share them. Thanks for asking!


      • October 25, 2010 4:49 pm

        Well, thanks for sharing.

        Another note:

        I find it unfortunate that we have to say things like, “might sound crazy” when we’re talking about life experiences and the positive things that we’ve learned. Where as we don’t say “might sound crazy” when we speak of war or hate or anything of that type.

        For instance (which sounds reasonable):

        “I’m not quite sure, Crystal. Even though it seems that she hurts me, it might sound crazy, but I do still love her.”


        “I’m not quite sure, Crystal. Even though we dropped a megaton bomb on that city, it might sound crazy but we killed thousands of people.”


        It might sound crazy, but you’re not crazy…you’re wonderfully where you should be right now. I’m happy to see that people can share these things without belittling or reducing them. You’re right: it is very hard to articulate what it is that you see. English is really handicapped in this regard; one of the reasons that we have to cram so many feelings under the banner of “Love”…sometimes, that’s not exactly what we meant…

        Keep up the good work, Crystal… We are reading!



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