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Life Is An Ocean: Learning to Flow When Life Ebbs

Just go with the flow. Simple words have never been more needed.

Whenever we hear the old saying, we’re reminded what little control we have in this wild world, but how we deal with our lack of control that makes all the difference.

There’s a satisfying feeling of watching a wave break as the water rushes up to greet our feet, and there’s a slight disappointment when the water leaves us and rushes back out. Briefly, we are left alone with our feet stuck in the sand. But as any beachgoer knows, it will return again soon.

The ocean truly is the great metaphor for life, its ebbs and its flows and the occasional rogue wave. Some days are filled with sun and others with sunburns. Some dips are soothing while others fill our lungs up with water. We can feel completely calm one moment and get completely knocked on our asses the next.

The trouble we have is that, even when we are in a state of flow, we let past ebbs and potential oncoming ones ruin the moment. But if we face the fact that life an uncontrollable force that continually recedes towards the abyss from time to time, we can embrace those good moments when they arrive. This is not to say we have no control, but at the least, we are continually humbled.

In The Rearview: The Bigger the Curse, The Bigger the Blessing

This may all sound a bit hippie and existential, sure, but that makes it no less true. To ebb means to move away from and, in this sense, we feel life ebbing as things continually don’t come our way, sometimes they even seem so far away we think they’ll never come back. But trust it’ll come back eventually.

The point is to enjoy the water over our feet and sunshine on our backs while we have it but to avoid spending the time when it’s gone worrying about when it will return and not to overindulge to the point that it blinds us from the next wave coming in. Otherwise, life is a series of disappointments and worries with not a lot of appreciation for the good we have. It’s very easy to be ungrateful for what we already have and focus on what’s missing, that’s just how we are wired, but we should focus more on the positive if we’re going to be productive or even just happy in this life.

Rogue Waves

We can all agree that 2020 has felt like a relentless tsunami of rogue waves, one massively, destructive catastrophe after another without much room between sets to catch our breath or find our footing. Yet we continue to tread along. Yes, it’s exhausting, but it won’t always stay this way.

When people’s rights, futures and safety are constantly put on the line every day, a new log is thrown on the fire each day, which sets ablaze our inability to enjoy anything good we have going in the moment, and it creates a subsequent inability to prepare for the future when so much uncertainty arises. But like the ocean, whose every ebb has a flow, so too does each fire find its rain.

“Every storm eventually runs out of rain.” – Maya Angelou

In our situation, we’re finding ourselves stuck in a ceaseless wildfire during one of life’s biggest droughts, both literally and figuratively. While it torches and burns through our beautiful forests, a positive outlook shows us that it paves the way for us to both morally and ethically take up our firehoses and douse the flames ourselves (VOTE).

Instead of focusing so much on what’s gone completely out of control and out of our hands, which makes us feel utterly helpless and more anxious for the future, it’s high tide we retreat to our smaller communities and work together to handle what’s within arm’s reach. In finding our own little bits of peace, our own states of flow, we will find other communities similarly coming to together to weather the storm alongside us.

A rogue wave may appear mighty and crushing, leaving damage in its wake, but there is always a rebuilding that comes after wherein structures are put together stronger and communities themselves grow more aware and tighter than ever before. From this great wildfire that is 2020, we will regrow and be more prepared for it the next time. But wildfires, in their own way, have a purpose. They come along every few years to force nature to reset in smaller ways. Without them, things can grow out of control in other ways, and by going longer without a balance we enable much larger fires to burn through.

A Watched Pot Never Boils

All this to say we shouldn’t ignore when life is flowing as if that should be the norm and spend all our days worrying and awaiting the next catastrophe. A watched pot never boils is sound advice for people who wait for and expect the worst, but the reality of this year is that you can’t predict what kind of trouble may befall you or people you love. It’s all very unprecedented, and it requires basic preparation to get by.

First, prepare yourself and your homes for some of life’s potential major eruptions but leave it at that, then carry on with life the best we can, knowing you’re prepared for anything that may come our way. Look out for your neighbors, communicate ideas with each other and get better at not only being prepared but reacting, but do it as a whole.

Then you may be free to soak in the good stuff and learn to go with the flow.