Thoughts from Beth- Living the Flow


Thoughts from Beth

Living in the Flow

By: Beth Lahaie



You might recall the term personification from your high school English classes. Personification is a writing technique in which an author gives human attributes to nonhuman objects. Never one to stick to rules, for this article, I’m flipping that definition and attributing characteristics I’ve observed about water to humans.    

Toward the end of September, I’d been cooped up for a while, because my fifteen-year-old family van (as my kids called it) gasped a final sputtering breath and died peacefully, leaving me homebound while my husband worked overtime under a soul-crushing load of deadlines at work. We hadn’t yet had time to go out and find a replacement that would hopefully serve us well for the next fifteen or so years. Without a vehicle, I couldn’t get out to sit at water’s edge or walk along the banks of nearby Fossil Creek.   

Fossil Creek doesn’t flow dependably, especially during the summer months, and because of a serious lack of rain most of the summer, I’m certain I haven’t missed much at the creek. But, after the eight-plus inches of rain we’ve gotten the past ten days, I didn’t need to go anywhere to watch water flowing. Water came to me, turning the street into a virtual river as it poured over curbs and inched up into the lawns.







 I sat by the living room window and watched the rain come down. The water level rose to fill the street and top the curbs. The water flowed toward the drainage culverts at the end of the street, carrying with it litter and debris from yards along with small branches and leaves torn from the trees in the storm. It all flowed easily under and around cars parked in the street, and thrilled the two young boys who were out playing in the deluge. Those two little fellows tried to stop the water from flowing down the street with everything they could find in their garage—shovels and rakes, cardboard boxes and bricks, brooms and dustpans, boards and sheets of plywood. They could divert the flow somewhat, but never stop it. No matter the size or weight of the obstacle the boys used, the water pushed up against it, and then effortlessly scooted around it keeping on it’s path to creeks, ponds, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and eventually the Gulf of Mexico.

I began thinking about water and flow. Flow is a big deal to humans. Athletes train for years, hoping to have that flow available to them during the big game or race. Painters and other visual artists make pencil and paper studies of the art they plan to create, and those studies allow them to get into the flow of that particular work so when they actually put paint to canvas their art flows into the heart of those who see it and steals their breath away. Musicians strive for flow not only in their compositions, but also in their performances as they create a musical experience that speaks to the soul of those listening.


 I’m a writer. When the words flow and the rhythm of the words and sentences come together to create a story, hours pass. I forget to get up and move every once in a while. I forget to hydrate myself. I forget to stop for lunch or cook supper. How I wish every time I sat down to write I immediately fell into a state of steady flow. Most often I sit down and watch the cursor blink on a blank screen or stare at my pen hovering over a clean page on a legal pad. Flow isn’t a constant for us humans, just like it’s not a constant for Fossil Creek, and I’ve read enough issues of Pond Boss to know things don’t always flow smoothly and effortlessly when it comes to building and managing ponds and fisheries.  Obstacles abound.


I’ve noticed something about pondmeisters, though—all of you have moxie. Your determination to wrestle with a chunk of land until it brings forth your vision of Heaven on Earth is laudable. Your style of flow might be a fast torrent like the guy in Bob’s story who was in such a hurry to create a trophy fishery he was willing to money-whip someone into selling his trophy bass. Or you might work toward fulfilling your life’s dream slowly, with methodical research, thoughtful contemplation, and careful, patient decision-making. But, just like water, all of you seem to find your own unique way of getting around whatever obstacles stand in your way. You might feel overwhelmed when problems creep up on you, like a sudden mega-bloom of blue green algae, a fish kill, beavers, or a slow leak behind the dam, but once past the initial shock, you always seem to get back into your pondmeister flow.  



Personally, I’d like to be a bit more like water when it comes to flow in my life. When water is flowing, it heads straight to the low places and fills them first. I don’t always do that. I tend to see my own low spots as something to ignore as long as possible in hopes they’ll go away. That’s not how low spots work in my life, though. They seldom disappear. Instead, they generally become more profound over time, until they demand my attention. How much easier it would be to simply give myself the care and attention I need when I first notice an overload of stress or restlessness, and frustration niggles at me that I might be moving in a direction that doesn’t actually serve me very well.

There are times when my life is flowing smoothly, and then without warning, circumstances or other people toss an obstacle in my path. While it is much easier to just flow around it like water, or better yet, to simply allow the irritation to flow either through or around me, way too often I gather it all up and hold it inside myself, letting it fester until it destroys my inner peace. When that happens, I have to expend a good deal of emotional and mental energy to correct my own course. Water doesn’t ever seem to waste energy like I do. It can be a raging torrent one moment, and then settle quickly into a nice steady flow until it reaches a place where it can be completely still, without so much as a ripple from it’s glass-like surface to the place where it rests peacefully against the soil. And there it stays—welcoming us humans as we gather along the banks with our loved ones for a day of fun and fishing, or those quiet times when we choose to sit all alone and let weariness and troubles slough off our shoulders until our jaw releases its tension, and the tiny muscles around our eyes, eyebrows, mouths, and neck soften.

Then there’s the way flowing water might appear to make a complete mess of things while it runs in unexpected places, but it also seems to leave the land in better shape. If winter thaw brings flooding, it also creates spawning areas. It provides water to the wetlands and marshes where migrating birds find respite and can nest. It waters fields and pastures, producing food for critters of all kinds. It fills ponds—and it fills our human souls. I want to be like that, too.



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