Go with the flow: No, not the “flow” that you think

After slogging in office for what seemed to be an eternity, I was extremely gratefully 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 was expected to work on. He had the audacity to ask me send it so that he can “review” it in the morning. I was enraged, my face turned crimson. Entire body was shivering and all I wanted to do was the break my phone. My wife seeing this tried her best and went with her go to advice – “Arvind, 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 means good.

The funny part though is that, I think many of us have been using it wrong. Heck even “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 its 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 what never ceased to amuse me is that: “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 (where he was a lawyer) as one of the rich Indian whose great grandson probably ended up playing for South African cricket team. We can keep on listing examples, but I think you have a fair idea where I am going with this. There simply isn’t many disruptors who opted to let life “run its course” 

Once they were clear of their purpose, once they found something they ought to do, nothing deterred them. They are obsessed with their core purpose that they do 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 to achieve what they set out to because 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” talks exactly about this. Once an individual finds his/her purpose of life he/she goes to any extent to fulfil it. However tedious and improbable it might seem from the outside, they actually are engrossed 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 of life. They just go with the “flow” 

In the world full of people pursuing instant gratitude with attention spans shorter than sparrow, there are exclusive sect 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. They go with their flow and never feel like it is enforced. They are relaxed not because they “let” life run its course, but because this is second nature to them. They feel their lives just flows smoothly and everything around them ceases to exist. This passion, dedication and undeterred concentration provides 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! Only dead fishes in a river goes with the flow, live ones proceeds to do what is sets out to using 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.