Flow is the sweet spot of conversations and blogging. You get into it and everything moves organically, one topic to the next. If you fall out of it, getting it back can be awkward. It’s sort of like needing an ice breaker activity at a party or sitting next to someone and not knowing how to start up a conversation. I ask questions and hope their answers will prime the conversation pump. In blogging, I have to ask myself the questions to get the flow started. A while back, I saw this meme: “I have so much to do I can’t decide whether I should get up early and dive in, or just give up, roll over in bed and let it all go.” Relatable, right? But, of course, I won’t let it all go. I’ll dive in and trust the flow.
Recently, I’ve found flow is either the sweetest spot to be or the most uncomfortable. Flow is the all-is-right-with-the-world feeling or the exact opposite. It’s effortless to float in the flow when it takes us where we want to go. Drowning in rapids is what it feels like when we are tossed about the unchangeable and unexpected.
LIFE JUST WON’T STAY PUT
Amira is in 11th grade. I saw those words next to her name on the school information website and felt a jolt of amazement. Today is her first day of school. Thanks to the pandemic, school is online distance learning only. I say that and I am grateful for the tools available and the effort that has been put into making this the best experience it possibly can be. It’s requiring the administration, parents, teachers, and students to have a willingness to work with things as they come. And as they do, they will, hopefully, develop their unique customized flow into a this-is-school-for-now normal.
My dad has Parkinson’s and PD-induced dementia. Mom is his sole caregiver right now. (We are working to get her help but it has been trickier than it would have been pre-COVID.) She & I talk almost every night after Dad goes to sleep. Mom, before retirement, was a payroll accountant. She was a good accountant because she is good at keeping a structured, detailed checklist, meeting deadlines, and getting everything corrected down to the penny. It’s a must for the job and she excelled at it. It was a perfect job for her because it is just part of who she is. She is reliable, consistent, accurate, and has everything under control. Those skills have made her an amazing caregiver too. She has detailed spreadsheets with Dad’s medications (both a list and the when and hows of giving those meds to him throughout the day). She has all the documentation you could want or need regarding his medical history. She’s thinking ahead, managing for contingencies, and possibilities that she and Dad might have to face. She’s incredible.
CONTROL (OR THE ILLUSION OF IT)
Last night, during our phone conversation, we got onto the topic of control (or the illusion of it) and the need (especially right now) for going with the flow. Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease that has and will only get more complicated to manage. Mom is incredible and she’s spread too thin and exhausted. Dad’s symptoms have been both expected and also out-of-the-blue. There’s just no way to say “This! This is how this will go.” It’s fluid every day. We talk about the days ahead and we find ourselves once again having to let go of timelines, getting everything perfect, and being in control. Predicting how things will go is impossible. We make our best-educated guess and accept that it is good enough. In both daily life and looking at the future, we are having to do the best we can with what we have today and go with the flow. (I say us, and while true… she is, as his caregiver and wife, taking a master’s level course in this compared to me.)
I was working on a series of paintings (before migraines interrupted my flow) that are about choosing a focus and a meaningful direction when faced with life’s unpredictable flow of circumstances and emotions. It’s a paradox I keep thinking about… going with the flow of things (releasing control) while simultaneously embracing the idea that I have a choice (taking control) in how I respond and live within that flow.
My paintings are my visual thought pieces, in context and execution. They are me asserting my belief and desire that I have free-will and access to healing and transformation if I will allow and pursue it… even when life is utterly out of my control. I don’t have to be happy about it. Agreeing that it is the best thing, or where I “should” be right now at this moment, isn’t necessary. I, however, can take control by determining what kind of person I want to be in this flow and what I will do next.