One of the ever present concepts of Taoism is flow, the ability to go where life takes us. The Taoist sages warn that most of us spend a great deal of our lives swimming AGAINST the current (flow) and this causes us to be out-of-balance, tense, stressed and in pain. So, one of the "secrets" of the virtuous life is to learn how to swim with the current of events, relationships and circumstances.
In all honesty, while this imagery appeals to me on a rational and philosophic level, it doesn't always seem to work that way in my autistic brain. As an individual who doesn't deal with changes very well -- life IS about change -- it would appear that my real life doesn't dovetail at all with my philosophic leanings!
The other day, however, it dawned on me that the above assertion may not be as true as I used to think. Like many people with Asperger's, I tend to take things too literally. It dawned on me that, maybe, the way I have been interpreting the concept of flow is too rigid.
Like anything else, flow is not static. The rate of flow is different for every stream. For example, the flow rate of the mighty Mississippi River would inundate a small creek.
There is another thing to consider. The flow rate is different on the varying portions of any stream. Years ago I went tubing on the Buffalo River in Arkansas. My wife and I chose a portion of the river in which the current moved very slowly; it was an area that seemed almost as tranquil as a pond. Only a few miles to the east, there were a series of rapids that would not have been conducive at all for leisurely tubing!
And, of course, the rate of flow in any location can change with the season or due to other variables. A month or two after our tubing experience, we returned to the same stretch of the river and it no longer was so tranquil. The area had experienced a lot of rain in a short period of time and so the rate of flow had increased considerably. We ended up deciding it wouldn't be safe to go tubing that day.
What I've come to realize is that I have been judging flow through the eyes of a neurotypical person, not as an autistic person. What flows for me probably wouldn't flow for any of you. The current of my life tends to run down the middle of a very narrow stream, one that rarely bleeds out over its banks.
This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.