2018 was an intense year. For many, last year was filled with the good, bad, or ugly life situations and lessons we don’t or can’t plan for ahead of time. Not only do these circumstances often require the presence of our whole heart and soul, they typically take up significant time and energy.
In addition, we’re experiencing a global and collective sense of despair and anxiety. Whether your life is directly impacted by this communal crisis or not, it is happening every day. In America, we’ve managed to continue the cultivation and manifestation of what it means to lack humanity. We the people are not in our right minds, on multiple levels, and in many ways. America has a humanity problem, which is a non-partisan issue and devastating to witness and experience. Many of us with a lived understanding of true devastation know that this is often the critical point where we start to hide from the reality of it all.
I understand this first hand. I’ve been instinctively hiding in plain sight for a long time. At first, it seemed like a reasonable response to a series of traumas and challenges. Then hiding just began to feel comfortable, like living under a plush blanket on a soft couch. One reason I decided to stop hiding is because of a concept that I now call “trust the flow”.
Trust the flow is not a phrase I created, but a nuanced concept floating in the world with different meanings for different people. The three words started to leave my lips a few years ago. Initially, I received excellent advice, after the deaths of two loved ones, to “trust the process”. I tuned into the ebb and flow of life and trust the flow became rooted, for me, in my understanding, experience, and relationship with God. With that grounding, trust the flow gained context as a tool to actively reduce or at least manage anxiety in critical moments; a way to counter the negative energy coursing through my life and our world.
For me, trust the flow is the ability to believe in a benevolent and loving energy that flows into our lives, works on our behalf, and can be experienced in any given moment, during any circumstance. The practice of trust the flow relies on our capacity to recognize, cultivate, and access good energy which feels easier to do in joy, and harder to execute in crisis. Frankly, in some life moments it can be hard to believe it even exists, until we see, feel, and experience it showing up in our life or the lives of others.
I can say clearly that in 2012, deep despair triggered my clear awareness of joy. I could not avoid the shaky and crumbling ground that was my life, but I could feel the solid nature of rock bottom. I started to see that in practice, trust the flow was the recognition of the combination of small and large experiences that bring hope and relief into our lives. The concept can remind us of the beauty and strength of our human spirit and push us forward.
Trust the flow is a favor we need, fulfilled. It’s a hard no that transforms into a yes. It’s a chance encounter on the street. It’s a close friend that calls to check in. It’s our family or friends who have our back. It’s a moment in prayer. It’s the song that comes on the radio and lifts our spirits. It’s the parking space that opens up and makes the day a little easier. It’s the money we need showing up right on time. It’s the generosity of others when times are rough. It’s the easily recognizable divine miracles, near misses from tragedy, or comfort when crisis hits.
I wish I could say that trust the flow is all about positive outcome, but it is not necessarily connected to a specific controlled outcome at all. I’ve had many moments where I was like, let me “trust the flow, it’s all good,” and it was not, or at least not how I imagined. Yet, I’m certain about positive energy because of the 15 years of crisis, the loss, the grief, the little to no money, the stressful jobs, my broken foot, or people, including elected officials, who unleash on the world what it means to allow fear and hate to run things. Trust the Flow is not a Pollyanna approach to life, it is my battle scar, my mantra, and my path forward.
I share these thoughts now, because “trust the flow” is not just mine to hold. It belongs to all of us. It is our right, even our responsibility, to believe in and infuse our lives with good energy. We must stop hiding from the realness of the process that doing so requires. This is not about bringing our “A game” every day, or another version of the over-simplified “just think positive” sentiment. This is trusting that our F game today is not the defining grade of our week and certainly not of our lives. It’s knowing that the actions and behaviors of others may impact, even devastate or disrupt our lives, but no one else controls the energy we give to the world. It’s knowing that just as sure as we can be lost, we can also be found. And, ultimately it is trusting that we can tap into all that exists to support our efforts to walk boldly towards the lives we want and hope to live.
I’m not naïve. I know what this world is and can be, how we dehumanize, abuse, maim, kill, and tear each other down. I recognize the fear, hurt, illness, rage, anger, hate, greed, injustice, poverty, starvation, war, and polarization that runs rampant in our families, communities, and societal systems. I know there is a front line in the battle against all of the “isms” that people sacrifice their lives to fight. I’m clear about what life circumstances can do to our bodies and spirits. I’m aware that large percentages of people, particularly people of color, are existing to survive and don’t often have a second to think about trusting God, a “flow” or anything beyond their own ability to make it. I know what it is when crisis is the center and in some cases rightfully consumes our day to day life.
And in these days and times, I know that this idea of intentionally infusing good energy into our lives and seeking out what compassion the world has to offer feels like and is in most cases a privilege. That’s why if we’re in a space to do so, tapping into our sense of humanity, and finding our flow is important, and so critical right now. Trust the flow is not passive. We have to actively choose the ways we can cultivate our belief and reliance on the idea, and we have to know what it means in our individual lives. Regardless of how it shows up, it requires us all to recognize our strengths, admit our challenges and tap into the internal and external resources to help us trust and rock out the rest.
I hope your, and our, trust the flow can be part of what balances out these intense times. I hope it is one of the tools that helps create a new and more evolved framework for humanity. I hope the action of seeing, infusing, and choosing what’s good in the world helps counter the fear and hate to balance out the results of what that energy cultivates and breeds. I hope we do better as individuals and as a collective to shatter false narratives about race, religion, gender, poverty, culture, money, politics, health, mental health, the environment. Finally, I hope that our ability to trust the flow helps the next person who is in despair and needs a moment of relief. A pay-it-forward-trust-the-flow world, that’s the kind of world I want to live in.