This is water PDF Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Monday, 24 June 2013 11:59
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There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish who nodded to them and said: Morning, boys. How’s the water?

The two young fish swam on for a bit and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes: What is water?

The most obvious and important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. So said David Foster, late American novelist, short story writer, essayist and college professor, in a 2005 commencement speech.

He said that in the day to day crunches of adult existence, we give banal platitudes a life or death importance. David committed suicide three years after this speech on 12 September 2008 at the age of 46.

In his speech he said that graduating seniors didn’t have any idea what “day in – day out” really means: Boredom, routine and petty frustrations.

You can get stuck in that or not. Your choice. Real freedom comes from choosing the way we see the world, and altering our default consciousness so that we’re able to see beyond the mundane frustrations of everyday life.

Albert Einstein said, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”

In a hostile universe, the rug may be pulled out from under you at any second and because you’re sort of expecting it, you keep dress-rehearsing tragedy. That is why many of us, in moments of joy, find ourselves bracing for tragedy in case this exquisite happiness is suddenly taken from us.

Vulnerability expert, dr Brené Brown, looks at the reasons why we find joy so frightening. She is an American scholar, author, public speaker and research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Over the past ten years she has been involved in research on topics ranging from vulnerability, courage and authenticity, to empathy and shame.

Brené believes that we have to express our vulnerability. That is why she shares the story of how she struggled to overcome addictions. Over the past couple of years she’s stopped drinking beer, stopped smoking, recently cut sugar and flour from her diet and stopped working a 60-hour week.

After this, she said to her therapist that she felt naked – like a turtle without its shell in a briar patch; the thorns were just killing her. Her therapist then asked Brené what she wanted out of the therapy sessions and Brené said that she wanted to learn how to grow a new shell.

The therapist looked at her and said: Why don’t you rather get out of the briar patch?

Staying your naked vulnerable shell-less self may not be all that easy to do in the situation, while you’re “in the arena,” as Brené says in ‘Daring Greatly’, when many others are in the stands, watching and judging you.

So, even if you fall flat on your face in the arena, can you keep believing that you live in a friendly universe? That everything happens for the best, although you cannot see it now? That going with the flow will take you where you want to be? Or do you point your angry fist up in the air, shouting: only dead fish move downstream?

The expression ‘going with the flow” is a metaphor that applies to navigating a river. When we go with the flow, we follow the current of the river rather than push against it.

“Going with the flow doesn’t mean we toss our oars into the water and kick back in the boat, hoping for the best,” writes Madisyn Taylor. It means you let go of your how-to-do-things recipe, notice the play of energy all around you, then tap into it. It will get you going where you need to go a whole lot faster than resistance will.

Look, this doesn’t mean that you don’t know where you want to end up. Of course you know the ‘what’ and the ‘where’. You just don’t get bogged down by the ‘how’. It means that you’re open to multiple ways of getting there; that you’re aware of an energy that is larger than you and that you are open to working with it, not against it.

Girlfriend, if you believe in a friendly universe, then this is water.

 

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