“You gonna swim back to the waves, or keep swimming forward?” an instructor asked. Yesterday I found myself sitting directly behind a group of fit, tanned bods in “North Bondi” speedos. An accident, I promise.
Lying on the beach these words (and images) struck a chord with a recent conversation, and a friend’s philosophy I’ve adopted and written about before – “always do rather than not do.” Yet this time the philosophy had a little twist: if one faces a number of options, which should one do?
I closed my eyes and imagined diving deep and swimming a straight line in smooth waters. To my sides and above me: waves of fear, misdirected intentions, confusion, distractions, and the temptation to let the waves carry me back to shore.
I imagined the journey of life like a path, that at times is clear but at other times is foggy. Sometimes you reach a fork in the road and it’s hard to know which way to go.
When you’re in “the flow” – when everything you do “feels right”, doors of opportunity open the path, it is green lights all the way – the “right path” will be clear. You feel smooth waters ahead, and you swim forward. Yet at other times you must rise to the surface, meet pounding waves, get caught in a rip, struggle for a breath, get distracted by your peripheries, or forget which way you were going.
I wondered: How do you know something (a job, a partner, a decision) is right? Short answer: you don’t.
Sure intuition and conviction can help but sometimes these thoughts and feelings are misconstrued. In one moment you can think something is right, and in a later moment of hindsight you see it is not.
How does one deal with such certain uncertainty?
I think the best thing to do is follow that “inner voice” and give it your all – swim as hard and fast as you can. Simultaneous stay aware of your “outer voice”, keeping watch with its vigilant critical gaze.
If your path takes you the wrong direction or leads you to a dead end, then retract and try another path – taking the lessons learned, skills developed, and new understandings with you. Even the most unfortunate detours may play important roles in your future.
There are no guarantees in life, and so much of what happens to us is outside our control. However, we do have control over our attitudes to our self and to others, we have a choice about how we think about our past, present and future, and it is up to us how we wish to frame our life stories. Making use of these tools gives us a tremendous amount of power – not over our life but over our experience of life.
So, if you find yourself going the wrong direction, take a big breath, dive deep beneath the waves, and swim straight. It’s never to late to try something different and find your flow.
Note on the pic:
I left my phone at home so I couldn’t take a photo of the twenty tanned bods 🙁 I found this shot online and have emailed the photographer – Carmen – for permission.