After slogging in the office for an eternity, I was extremely grateful to have hit the couch. I just wanted to Netflix and crash with my spouse. Then came that dreaded phone call from my boss. As there was an “important” change to incorporate, I had to work on it. He had the audacity to ask me to send it so that he can “review” it in the morning. Enraged by this, my face turned crimson. All I wanted to do was break my phone. My wife seeing this tried her best and went with her go-to advice – “Babe, don’t stress out relax! Go with the flow”
I am sure 99% of us have heard this at least once in your life! “Go with the flow”: When you are enraged with blood-curdling anger or when you are deeply dejected or sometimes even when you are grieving! It astonishes me to see how applicable it is to diverse emotionally charged up situations. However difficult it is to adopt, make no mistake, people usually preach this genuinely and mean good.
Visionaries don’t “let things be” often
The funny part though is that I think many of us have been using it wrong. Heck, even the “Cambridge” dictionary is a bit off here in its definition. People tend to take these words literally when advising. Instead of resisting or striving to control, we should just let things run their natural course and go where life leads. Take a laissez-faire approach to life and “relax” your way to life without worrying too much about anything.
Although it amused me. “Isn’t this kind of against everything that any visionary did in this world”. I mean I am sure Mr. Einstein didn’t find “Theory of relativity” by relaxing and letting life run its course! Imagine Mahatma Gandhi going with the “flow”, he would have settled in South Africa to become a very rich Indian lawyer). His great-grandson probably would’ve ended up playing for the South African cricket team. We can keep on listing examples, but I think you have a fair idea of where I am going with this. There simply aren’t many disruptors who opted to let life “run its course”
Rethink what flow actually means
Once they were clear of their purpose, nothing deterred them. Their obsession with their core purpose does not let anything relax them. Nothing stopped them from working on what they believed in. They invested all the resources at their disposal. Be it money, time, their social status, in some cases even life (read Ms.Curie). They were willing to go to any extent. Achieving what they set out was of paramount importance. This is what their life “flow”s to. This is the natural order of things; they were born to do this.
Japanese “Ikigai” and Viktor Frankl’s “logotherapy” talk exactly about this. Once an individual finds his/her purpose in life he/she goes to any extent to fulfill it. However tedious and improbable it might seem from the outside, they engross themselves in it. They don’t find it daunting or even a hassle as they find their life “flow”s smoothly whenever they are doing something they believe will fulfill their purpose in life. They just go with the “flow”
Only dead fish go with the flow
In a world filled with people pursuing instant gratitude with attention spans shorter than a sparrow, there is an exclusive set of people called “Takumi” in Japan. They do nothing but one job all their life. It can be something as menial as making one particular type of sushi (google “Sukiyabashi Jiro”) to making tools for complex machineries! However unfathomable it is for many of us, they do this for years together irrespective of retirement.
Since they found their purpose and enjoy it so much, they lose track of time. Their life is nothing but a constant ebb and flow of joy. The joy of doing something one wants to. They are relaxed not because they “let” life run its course, but because this is second nature to them. They feel their lives just flow smoothly and everything around them ceases to exist. This passion, dedication, and undeterred concentration provide life satisfaction and helps them relax.
Always remember, whenever next time someone comes and asks you to “Go with the flow”, it is not to let go of life or to just let life run its course. It has a deep inner meaning that not even your advisers are not aware of! Only dead fishes in a river go with the flow, live ones proceed to do what it sets out to use the river currents to their advantage. You are not a dead fish; you are a vibrant individual who deserves to get what you set out to.