“Finding the Flow”
Today’s Words of Wisdom:
“The sword is like a bird. If you clutch it too tightly, you choke it. Too lightly, and it flies away.”
~ “Scaramouche”, Perigore of Paris
The Foda’s Take: I guess that’s why they call it a “happy” medium. Because in this scenario… well, overcompensate and you’ve got yourself a dead bird.
The year was 1997. I was in junior high, and it was a cold winter night. My father, known in this galaxy by his alias Dobiwan, was standing in front of our ridiculously antiquated microwave, finger hovering over the timer button. We were watching “Scaramouche,” a 1952 film starring Stewart Granger and Janet Leigh. It was toward the end of the movie, right before the protagonist and antagonist were about to engage in an epic fencing duel, the length and intricacy of which made it the longest dueling sequence to date. And we were going to time it. (To my recollection, it clocked in at around 7 minutes.)
This movie was one of my childhood favorites, and I remember well the advice delivered by fencing master Perigore: “The sword is like a bird. If you clutch it too tightly, you choke it. Too lightly, and it flies away.” (It’s actually stolen from 19th century French fencer Louis Justin Lafaugere.) Great advice, right? It applies to pretty much everything. Relationships. Running a business. Holding a spoon.
So then why did it take me so long to realize that “muscling through” a tough time was, how shall I put this…. STUPID??!!
You see, I’ve recently started a new protocol for my chronic Lyme disease. It’s part of a new study combining three drugs, and they were super upfront with me. IT. IS. INTENSE. Like, “people calling in crying because they feel so awful” intense. (It’s a “feel bad to feel better” kind of situation. Like chemo. Or getting your teeth cleaned. Or doing lunges.) So in the days leading up to beginning this treatment, I was in preparation mode. Stock the fridge with easy meals. Load the Netflix queue. Take care of all important business, bills, and paperwork I’ve been avoiding. I’m not going to lie, it was very much a “last supper” kind of mentality I had going on.
Which I may have mentioned to my father Dobiwan the day before beginning the treatment, stating I just had to “muscle through it.”
To which my wise and learned father replied: “Or flow through it….”
<Picture a light bulb popping up over my head and rapping my skull repeatedly, yelling, “Ding-ding-ding!”>
Yes. In this scenario my light bulb is talking. (Shut up. It’s my imagination.) Why was the light bulb blatantly shaming me? Because I’ve worked really hard over the past four years to better myself, my mind, and my spirit while my body deteriorated. And learning how to relinquish what isn’t mine to control and approach each day with a flexible and mindful spirit was one of the first big lessons I learned. But some lessons you need to learn more than once. (Or twice. Or… a lot.)
When life gives you a traumatic situation, most people’s tendency is to try and gain control over it, kind of like a burly bodybuilder at an arm-wrestling match. Problem is, trying to arm-wrestle life is kind of like– how shall I say it– a premature baby trying to drop kick the heavyweight champ. Alternately, we also can’t sit back and throw our hands up, relying on fate or time to do the work for us. That’s called letting your life pass you by.
So as I embark on this new path, I’m reminded once more to channel the strength and intelligence of water: Strong enough to erode any obstacle over time, and yet smart enough to flow around the jutting rock instead of fruitlessly trying to knock it down.
Or as we kids used to say back in the 90’s…
Go with the flow, yo!