For some time now I have noticed that there are periods inmy life where I feel like an old shopping trolley dumped in a stream. On a good day, the water flows through the mesh of the trolley sides and it feels OK to be sitting there. Every now and then a few leaves are brought down by the stream and get stuck over the mesh, causing a bit of a blockage to the water flow, and being a shopping trolley with feelings, I notice that I feel pressure as the water struggles to flow through and around the blockage. So most days, I make it my job to regularly patrol the upstream side of the trolley and remove the blockages, thus restoring the flow of water, and reducing the pressure.
A problem arises however, when there is a storm and a big plastic bag is washed down stream and gets stuck on the mesh. This wall creates such resistance to the flow of the stream that the trolley easily turns over and tumbles down stream further, before coming to rest in another area. This new area feels unfamiliar and I am not sure that i want to be there at all, so I stay on alert, removing potential blockages even faster, hoping that I don’t get ‘plastic bagged’ again and moved on against my will.
What I have noticed in the last few weeks is that this is exactly how part of me lives life – constantly expecting and waiting for stuff to interrupt the flow and screw up my life. So my life becomes about trying to prevent this happening by constantly scanning for blockages and removing them before they build up.
And this sort of works because I get to perpetuate my experience. By keeping the blockage levels low, life can flow through, and I do not get times of high stress where there is a build up of pressure and I get tumbled out of my comfort zone. But there is a limitation here. The focus of life becomes about looking for and removing blockages because I want to remain where I am – and it takes a lot of focus and effort to do this. At some point, part of me has made the assumption that sitting partially submerged in a stream bed and being stationary is preferable to being tumbled into areas I do not know or which I am not familiar with. So I do what I have to, to remain stationary, keeping up the same old view of life and familiar surroundings.
More recently however, I have started looking at the assumptions I have made in my life, and it has occurred to me that setting myself up as a shopping trolley in a stream, and using my energy to be on the lookout for incoming threats is perhaps not the best way of living. So I have been exploring other options within the stream/ shopping trolley scenario. For example, what would it be like if instead of setting myself up as static in the stream and trying to manage the flow rates through me, I became part of the stream instead? This means literally going with the flow of the stream and where it takes me, rather than resisting it. What would be possible then? No longer stuck in an assumed best position, but willing to explore whatever else comes up.
I think it would mean less energy wasted in resistance and patrolling for incoming problems, which occurs as a pretty draining way of living, and having more fun and adventure seeing where the stream takes me. A big part of me knows that I can not only survive just abut anything the stream of life brings to me, but also that’s where life becomes fun and fulfilling.
One thing is for sure the stream will continue flowing – it’s not going to turnaround and run backwards up hill. So I can resist it, which is draining, or run with it, which is energy giving. Therefore I can choose how I engage with the stream of life – with or against the flow.
Once I start seeing things that clearly the choice becomes inevitable. Going with the flow becomes my preferred choice.
So that’s how it is at the moment. But it has only come about because I have been noticing the impact of choosing, albeit unconsciously, the path of resistance. And why would anyone want to choose a hard work path of resistance? This is one of the implications of being a human, and learning that safety, familiarity and predictable routine seem preferable to engaging with the unknown.
I also know that life at its fullest is beyond existing comfort zones and assumptions, so most of the time that’s where my commitment lies. From time to time I lose sight of that vision, and start looking for problems, which ends up not being great fun, is tiring and keeps me in my comfort (or discomfort) zone.
So what assumptions are you making that you are maybe not even aware of yet? Does your apparent commitment to staying stationary clash with your desire for fulfillment? Where are you resisting the flow of life? Or, how do you stay in the flow of things?
Do please reply with your observations and thoughts – I am interested in your version of events.