I've never really been one for making life plans. For most of my adulthood I've drifted seamlessly from job to social circle to neighbourhood to hairstyle; never giving much thought to how one led into the next. It was a nice little setup that allowed me to have more bizarre life experiences at 36 than some people have in their entire lives.
Over time I grew a little less enamoured of life as a drifter. Although I’m not one to watch face, I looked around and saw in other people’s lives the benefits of having a plan. And so I got a little more strategic about my shit.
Since then I can look back at life and see crossroads; points at which I had a choice between Options A and B. And for the most part I can see that the option I chose was the right one. I can map the events of my life back to that choice and say definitively that I am better off for the choices I made.
The last big life choice I made essentially amounted to choosing the path the rest of my life would take. I won’t bore you with the details, but I could choose the conventional path; with the steps clearly laid out and prescribed rewards for hard work. Or I could choose the daring path, where hard work would get me only so far and then luck and hustle would carry me the rest of the way. Never having been a person who was particularly lucky or industrious, I chose convention.
Although convention has been working pretty well for me, I have a niggling feeling that I’ve made a grievous error. It’s kind of hard to explain it, but it’s as though there has been an imperceptible shift in the axis of my life, and everything has become ridiculously difficult. My friendships, my workouts, my household chores, my blog – it all used to flow easily and now handling my business in those regards has become the equivalent of Sisyphus pushing that rock up the hill.
Even though she’s the patron saint of Black girls, I’ve never been a big Oprah fan. But there is one thing I once heard her say that I never forgot. The gospel according to Oprah Winfrey states:
Find the flow and follow it. You can’t go wrong. Even if you’re in a situation where you feel uncomfortable or out of place, don’t try to swim against the current. Change direction. Find the flow and follow it.
I’m a firm believer in this as a philosophy of life. When you’re following your flow, life is not necessarily easy, but it proceeds. You try things and they work and if they don’t you apply the lessons and it do better the next time. When you’re following your flow, life leads you organically through its steps. When you’re following your flow, you feel it.
But when life feels like swimming upstream, it’s because you abandoned your flow somewhere and sought a path that is not for you. That’s when simple things like doing your laundry begin to feel like insurmountable obstacles. That’s when things that used to come easily, things that you used to succeed at without effort, become herculean tasks that cannot be mastered. That’s when easy, effortless relationships become strains on your psyche. It’s when life requires more effort than you feel capable of giving.
Lately I’ve been feeling like I lost my flow. That I’ve taken a wrong turn and am heading down a path that is not destined for me. But how do you ever really know that? I like the path I’m on. I’m challenged and I’m occasionally successful at it. How do I know that the difficulties I’m experiencing aren’t just life teaching me how to work hard? And if I am off my flow, how do I get it back?
That’s the question of the day my friends. And, as with all life’s big questions, I put it to you dear readers. Do you feel like you’re following the flow of your life? How can you tell? Have you ever felt that you lost your flow? What did you do about it? Speak on it in the comments.