Only Dead Fish Go with the Flow

My granddad told me this once. “People say, ‘Go with the flow.’ Only dead fish go with the flow.”

My granddad was the most Zen human being I’ve ever known. So when he said this, it made me think. I’ve kept it in my mind and heart ever since, turning to it for comfort when life gets a little too flowy.

It’s a flowy kind of week ’round here. Take the next twenty-four hours, for example. A dear friend is flying in from the West Coast for a brief visit. Slinkster Cat needs to be at the vet at oh-dark-thirty in the morning so he shall henceforth be empowered to flout the commandment to be fruitful and multiply. Friends need help moving. My Sainted Husband has an eye appointment at the office where only he, I, and about five thousand lovely and chronically late old people see the doctor, and where delays are long enough that as I wait there in the waiting room that hasn’t changed since the ’70s, I imagine several endangered species going extinct before we can get out. Once Sainted Husband has been rendered functionally blind for the next few hours, we will go back to the vet for Slinkster Cat, who will probably be groggy and understandably put out. We are having peeps over for dinner. Because my Sainted Mother is ill, we will be doing all this with Things 1 and 2 in tow.

This is all good stuff–and it’s the time with friends that’s going to make it beautiful–but it’s gonna be a day.

Enter Challenge #7 (my lucky number!), via Wonder-Tracker Jeffrey Davis, just when I need it most.

#DareToExcel Challenge – 7

Commit to viewing time differently from this day forward. Here are two invitations:

#1 – Draw a new relationship to time: The first one is an exercise that engages your faculties beyond the analytical-rational mind to help you rise above the “good enough” plateau and to dare to excel:

Draw a symbol or describe symbolically your existing relationship to time. What does Time look like? Move like? Feel like in terms of weight or texture? How do you two relate? Then do the same for your desired relationship to time that would let you excel? What does that Time look like? Move like? Feel like?

Share a pic of what you create with us and online.

#2 – Get outside of yourself: What one thing could you do to shift your relationship to time? How could you get outside of your office, outside of your habitual work flow, and do something so seemingly unproductive as to take a walk in the park, bicycle down the road, or watch the sunset for 10 minutes? Okay – don’t just write about it. Do it! Dare you!

Here is my existing relationship to time:

Me. Time. Guess who's winning?
Me. Time. Guess who’s winning?

I know I’m not the first person to think of juggling, but it’s one of those metaphors that’s become a cliche because it’s true. I can only keep approximately two balls in the air at once, in both actual juggling and in real life. Everything else falls around my feet, creating a massive Ball Pit of Much Anxiety (I think of how my friend Juliet refers to those ball pits at children’s attractions as “cholera pits.” TRUTH).

Choose a fishy or three.
Choose a fishy or three.

This is how I would like to relate to time–focused on a few important things, and not caring about all those darn plastic balls. I think of how my friend A. K. Anderson guided my first steps on Twitter with the analogy of diving in a coral reef–there are a lot of bright and shiny fish, but you can’t look at them all. Pick a few and don’t worry about the rest. Like my granddad’s words, A. K.’s have stuck with me. I’ve repeated them before, and I know I will again.

My pictures are done with ink and brush in the style of sumi-eThis form emphasizes shape, feeling, movement. It’s pared-down, elegant (not that my attempts are, but you get the idea). Even the placement of the seal is important (mine is a honeybee). In the first picture, the seal is lost, part of the clutter. In the second, I tried to show that it is free and yet part of the overall image.

I’m still really new at this, but it’s a practice that pulls me out of time, out of the everyday. It’s my answer to Part 2 of this Challenge.

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