For me being anywhere in sight or near the ocean restores my energy. Being in the water is even better. So it was without any plan that I decided today to head to the beach. It was mid morning, I was in between appointments and craved the fresh winter ocean air and the sight of the surf and sand.
I chose to get there by wandering in the right direction. I knew at least which way I needed to go. I did not look at a map. I did not look at my watch. I did not care where I ended up as long as it was at the beach. All I knew was that if I kept turning right and heading north I would end up at the beach.
It was at the beach that I had one of those encounters that leaves you puzzled. After my walk I sat down in my private peace to enjoy the view, the surfers and the elements. No one else was on the beach, jut the occasional surfer heading down or back from the surf.
My focus was on whether or not each surfer caught the next wave. Then all of the sudden I felt someone standing nearby. I turned around and just metres away was a young man, earphones in place and shoulder bag in tow. We smiled at each other then turned back to looking at the surf.
Oh no, he wants to talk to me!
Next thing I know he is standing right next to me, earphones out of the ears and inviting me into a conversation.
At first I was a little annoyed. I wanted my quiet, reflective time and instead had the only other person on the entire beach inches away from me.
Why not give the person a go
Then I thought how nice to just take a moment to connect with a stranger as I like to meet strangers (see my other post). Usually though I don't have encounters on the beach and certainly in what felt like a private space.
As he sat down next to me I opened up to a chat. What I learned from him in our short conversation was interesting. He basically was wandering in life and didn't know where to go. He had an easy job back in the USA that he could do anywhere. He wasn't really about the work but for some reason more about where he wanted to be. He thought maybe he wanted to be here in Australia, not back in the USA. So he was on a short month long visit trying to find a way. He then planned to return in December to try again.
Getting lost with a wanderer
So it was while he was talking that I got hit by this wave of directionless uncertainty. His presence and existence in life felt wishy washy if I can use such words.
As he talked I could here the indecisiveness in the tone of his voice, the hesitation in his words, the way he emphasised some words and not others. Essentially he was like the sand we were sitting on drifting in whichever way the elements moved him.
Now from a romantic philosophical perspective this approach to life sounds liberating, almost freeing. Yet in reality he felt lost to me.
Then I also noticed the parallels and differences in our journeys.
As we conversed I finally decided that I did not want to stay with this conversation. We were very different wanderers. As I walked back to the car and drove to the office my feelings translated into thoughts.
Deciding to go with the flow
For me the idea of 'going with the flow' is in itself a decision. We consciously choose to let go and allow the events in our world to shape our day and lead us. When we don’t choose to go with the flow we instead wander aimlessly, disrespecting our self and the active role we play in choosing what we want in life.
So for me going with the flow takes at least a sense of direction. To know where you are aiming helps you strive and go for what you want. How you get there does not matter.
You may not even get there yet it leads you on a journey of discovery. You also may find along the way distractions that take you in a new direction.
What matters is how you handle getting there. We can make the journey incredibly challenging or we can make it easy. For me it is about at least setting a direction. Then relaxing about how you get there.
Getting more out of your wandering
So here are a few ways to get more out of the way you travel in your life.
1. Be clear about what it is that you need or want in your life.
2. Identify the many ways you can satisfy this need or want.
3. Choose a direction from the many.
4. Get oriented on your coordinates.
5. Then start going there.
6. Along the way notice where you are.
7. Pay attention to the signs that lead in the direction you want to go and follow them.
7. When you get there welcome the need or want being met.
8. Then start the cycle over again.
When we start to see our life as a whole series of little journeys we can have a lot more satisfaction, meaningful and interesting experiences.
We also trust and develop our innate sense of direction.
Let's go there...