Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Neither Driftwood nor Masters of The Universe

On a pretty regular basis someone responds to something I post on Facebook with an enthusiastic, "JUST go with the flow!" 

It's understandable really- our you-can-do-anything-and-should-do-everything culture tends to cultivate an inflated sense of individual control over and responsibility for all aspects of reality, and that can feel exhausting. Surely we could do with a few lessons in surrendering and acceptance, particularly in the places where we do not have control (for instance, over other people.)

On the other hand, we are not driftwood. 

Consciously or unconsciously, we are all, to some degree, co-creating participants in our shared world and life. We have free will and are often able to make some effective choices. Of course choice is tricky, often shaped by aspects of self that are largely unconscious. Effective free will expands proportional to our awareness of what is happening within and around us, and let's face it- some moments are definitely better than others on the awareness front.

To my mind (and heart) it's not about flipping between or orchestrating the perfect mix of reaching for control or passively going wherever the strongest current takes us. Being an effective and full participant in life is a different way of being, one where we hold the tension between the idea of haplessly going with the flow and the fantasy of being masters of the universe.

It's more about using our free will to come into alignment with and surrender to present-moment surges of the surf -conditions within and around us- while relaxing into our limited but profound ability to shape where a wave will put us down. Often it's about timing- knowing when to paddle hard and when to let something larger carry us.

It's about choosing the wave to which we want to surrender, and deciding how we want to ride it in this moment. 

Oriah House (c) 2014


  1. "Choosing the wave to which we want to surrender..." I like that very much. That gives control-freak-me the CHOICE. I prefer choices and your way of seeing it. THAT helps ME much much more, than those empty "single/one sentences" like "go with the flow". All they ever seem to accomplish with me are the reaction of my body wanting to gag. THANK YOU for always helping me feel better after having read your blog. Whenever I beat myself up over not getting those cheer-me-up-one-sentences, I go read your stuff, always does the trick to help me relax and be okay with the world again :-) xox

    1. Thank you Sabine. So glad the blogs offer something that helps you be with who you are and the world :-)

  2. This really helpful and profound...we must actively participate and there IS free will. iI sat and looked at your words for a long time tonight Thank you!

  3. yes. to me, it is like being in the river .. and I might not choose the course it is taking but I can damn well use the oars.

  4. "... knowing when to paddle hard and when to let something larger carry us ..."

    Fine metaphor -- thank you. :-)

  5. Oriah - I love this. My husband is a surfer though I am not - . he would talk about picking the right wave, being in the best position in the water, paddling hard and then enjoying the ride - all the while knowing when to pull out and off the wave. All those aspects as you say so eloquently, are about that balance between surrender and control. Thank you.