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March 16, 2007

The bobbing cork

Once when I was in college, I fell hopelessly in love with my history professor. He was Gorgeous, and So Wise, and also, Magnificent.

He was also not truly interested in the fawning clumsy adoration of a freshman, but he was tolerant and very nice to me. One day when I was dropping of a paper in his office I noticed he had a book on his desk with a great cover, it was some kind of philosophy book about "Tao" which I was pretty sure wasn't Southern.

"Oh!" I said, "what a cute book."

(Because Taoism? So "cute" right?) (I was eighteen.)

"You can have it," he said. "Read up, young philosopher."

And I went home and read it cover to cover because I assumed it must be a VERY important book if he had it on his desk. I don't remember the title of the book or anything about it, really, except for the theory of the bobbing cork which I will now proceed to misquote heavily as I have killed those brain cells in the ensuing years.

Essentially, the idea is that if you place a cork in a flowing stream of water, like in a creek for example, it will bob along happily with the flow of the water, carried along on the surface of the stream. And no matter how many times you push it down with your finger, it just pops back up to the surface and continues to bob along.

Even if you use ALL the force of your body to push down the cork, it will pop back to the surface. In fact, the more forceful you are, the more forceful the trajectory to the top of the stream.

I have thought about this idea time and time again in my life, everyone says "Go with the flow, stop resisting, start embracing..." and sometimes you try, and sometimes you need to restrained from causing bodily injury to the advice giver. (Advice being far more divine to give than receive, of course.)

During my divorce, especially, folks liked to offer up advice on just going with the flow. I took it to mean, "Go with the flow of wine."

And I succeeded, thanks!

Now I am in a much happier mood, a much happier life. I feel like I am closer to being me than I have ever been before. Seeing my family has made me feel centered and happy, I love being with them and love having them in my life.

And yet still sometimes I tend to struggle against the flow of my life, reaching backward to old times, or old ways of doing stuff, thinking about how I want things to be as opposed to how they really are. And no matter how much you wish something were different, someone, you cannot change other people. You can bob along, or keep pushing, but either way you end up back in the stream, flowing along whether you want to or not.

Posted by laurie at March 16, 2007 11:49 AM