Live against the Flow

I left work earlier than usual. Being on the train homebound in the early afternoon felt like a holiday. Thrilling, free, and almost naughty. It seemed as if I were in a different time zone. And perhaps I was.

I liked the smiles on people’s faces and their casual chatter. No one looked like a Tuesday to me. As if everyone was going out of their way not to be in a rush to get anywhere. The lady eating her pomegranate in the seat opposite mine looked intent on chewing the last bit of juice from every tiny seed she would carefully pick. I kept looking around. There were no laptops, tablets or smartphones as far as eyes could see. There were no overnight news to catch up on and no frantic flicking through school textbooks or corporate PowerPoint presentations. Everyone was wide awake. This was a completely different crowd to the morning and late afternoon people I got accustomed to sharing my daily train commute with.  I liked the energy of this time zone.

I was going against the flow of traffic. It reminded me of walking into a shopping centre on a weekday morning. No rush, lots of elderly people and stay-at-home parents living their realities according to their own clocks.

Although against the flow, I felt I was in the flow. I felt well for no particular reason. And I noticed that the world around me had other options we could pursue at any time we chose. Time is relative to our interpretation of the clock. So why don’t we live our lives against the flow of traffic? A myriad of excuses comes to mind. Having to make a living for one. But if we put shoulds and have-tos aside, is it not possible to live a thrilling life and still make a living? Or how about making a fortune? How about replacing our shoulds and have-tos with our wants and our likes.

If we lived our lives in touch with who we really are, having to eke out a living would probably not be the first thing on our minds. As Mark Twain put it, “Make your vocation your vacation. That is the secret to success.”

I believe it is possible to feel well in every aspect of our lives all the time. All meaning is acquired knowledge. We derive most of our feelings from our thoughts and their meanings. Our beliefs are made up of our most frequent thoughts. Everything we take as a given, a possibility, or “the way things are” is based on what we experienced or learned in the past. We drive on the left-hand side of the road in Australia, elsewhere they drive on the right. Why? Just the way it is. Too expensive to change everything now. And why should we change? What else do we use “too costly” or “them first” as excuses to justify not living our lives to the full?

And so most people go with the flow. It’s easier, it’s how we’ve always done it. It helps if the flow is moving towards where we want to be. It is more efficient swimming or even floating downstream rather than upstream. Less effort. Turning that ship around is hard work. And simply most people do not want to work that hard. Going with the flow of what we don’t like but accept as our reality only appears to be more comfortable than challenging the current on the way to where we really want to be. If we’re absolutely sure of the direction in which we want to go no matter what obstacles turn up we must eventually get there.

Let us stop struggling, floating, and swimming without an aim. We can live in the flow that feels thrilling, free, and almost naughty. Let’s start by making one day of each week an against-the-flow day. For me it will mean doing something that feels like I should be doing instead of doing something I am supposed to be doing for at least once a week. What will it mean for you?


  1. Writing/blogging is my version of going against the flow…and yet, even within that, there is a flow. Staying on the path of ‘less-is-more’ is a constant challenge when there is pressure to ‘keep up’. Maybe us humans are wired to conform?

    • Hi Alarna, I appreciate your thoughts very much. ‘Less-is-more’ challenge really resonates with me, thank you for pointing this out; I find it helps taking action on what we believe in no matter how unprepared or under resourced our egoes may tell us we are. Most people conform to lawfulness and morality, although even these vary from society to society. What we can change is the conformity with a life that is not to our liking. We’re all a work in progress.


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