(I watched them play Spikeball from this window.)
A few weeks ago, on Ron’s birthday weekend, we learned that his brother and nephew were going to drive down from Portland to visit. My nephew is fifteen and good friends with my son Anthony. They would be staying at my mother in law’s place, just a few blocks away from us.
Anthony adores his cousin so when he found out his cuz would be in town, he was psyched.
Then, the night before they were expected, we learned that his fifteen-year-old son was going to be bringing a friend along too.
This news set me into a panic.
In my head: “Wait, what if Anthony’s cousin goes off with this friend and Anthony feels left out? This is terrible. This is going to be a horrible weekend. My son will be so disappointed. This is not okay…”
And on and on I perseverated.
(This went on for longer than I would care to admit.)
“Ron,” I said, “you need to sort this out with your brother. This is not okay!”
I so deeply wanted to control this circumstance. To do anything I could to make absolute sure my son would not be disappointed or left out over the weekend.
I paced. I perseverated. I insisted.
At one point I took a minute and felt into my body. And I noticed my heart beat, the tension in my shoulders, the waves of anxiety and fear coursing through me.
It was excruciating.
Then I took a deep breath, then out of nowhere a thought floated in: Amy, what if you let go. Give up trying to control this situation? What if you throw away any evidence from you own past of being left out and disappointed by friends and just let this weekend show you what it’s going to be? What if you just trust whatever is meant to unfold is meant to unfold?
I took another deep breath. I felt better. I apologized to my poor husband who I had whipped into a frenzy along side of me. And I decided to take my own advice.
Ron’s brother and son arrived the next evening, along with the friend. Long story short, the three of them, Anthony, his favorite cousin, and favorite cousin’s friend, played video games, wrestled on the trampoline, watched football, swam in the pool, played spikeball for hours in the front yard and generally had a glorious time being fifteen-year-old boys together.
Thank God because I can only imagine the kind of awkward and hellish alternative reality I was on the brink of creating. In my fury to protect my child from something I was sure would happen, I was poised to ruin my husband’s birthday weekend, make my brother in law disinvite an innocent kid, piss off my nephew, and embarrass my son. Head. Slap.
This was a not very flattering example of me choosing to live in FLOW instead.
So let’s break it down:
Flow is the opposite of control.
We seek to control our reality out of fear. We have fear because our brain loves to predict the worst case scenario and, to save time, we look for evidence to prove our worst case scenario story correct and the evidence tends to come from the bad things that have happened to us in the past, or to our neighbor’s kid in the past, something that happened in a movie (think Perks of Being a Wallflower), something you heard some other high school mom say, maybe something you listened to on NPR about kids and depression, and on and on.
Your brain doesn’t care, it just wants to be RIGHT. Hence, evidence!!! Evidence!
“Think” about it this way…
When we are in “I’ve got to stop this,” mode or “this is going to be bad,” mode or “I know how this shit’s going to go down,” mode we THINK we can actually predict the future, then we go deeper into our brain by trying to figure out all the ways that things are going to go wrong to the nth degree then we construct elaborate plans (plan A, plan B, plan C, plan D, plan E) to avoid (aka control) all the “sure-to-happen” disasters that we have convinced ourselves are inevitable.
Here we operate from HEAD, and the name of the game is fear.
Flow, on the other hand, is all about the HEART. And it starts in the body when you feel yourself in anger, fear, panic, judgment, shame or any other cringy sensation that makes you want to reach for a bag of Flamin Hot Doritos against your better judgment.
When we shift to flow, we let go of our stories about the past, all that “programming” we have consumed in the media that sends us into panic (there’s a reason its called programming), our opinions about how things are supposed to go and, instead, we trust.
What exactly are we trusting, you ask?
We are trusting that everything will be okay. In fact, if you looking to live in a state of flow, that everything will be better than okay because everything, even the shitty, happens for our highest good.
This is why the flow state might sound like unicorns and rainbows but in the real world it requires buckets of courage and humility.
Courage because flow means stepping out into the world without your armor knowing that whatever you encounter is going to eventually (and if you listen) show you how to be a more evolved version of yourself.
Humility because it requires letting go of what you think you know so reality can show you something new to know that will then evoke a change in your reality outside of what you keep re-creating through your damn stories.
In this way, we set ourselves up to be a portal for the new, the different, maybe even the magical –it is your formula to the evolution of your consciousness.
Back to me. I was triggered. Riddled by anticipatory anxiety then righteous anger over something that hadn’t even happened but that I was sure would. I kept seeing poor Anthony home alone that weekend, his cousin and his cousin’s friend obliviously skateboarding around downtown Ashland getting boba and buying hip t-shirts at Mile High.
Only when I was able to get into my HEART and stop all that thinking was I able to decide not to identify with my story and just trust instead. And the remembrance washed over me that anxiety, fear, outrage and the obsessive need to control, was not my natural state.
The rest was magical…
I got to watch something new unfold. I witnessed my trauma fueled prediction that Anthony would be left out, melt away. What was left was a new friend for Anthony, an epic game of Spikeball that I got to watch from the kitchen window and a really fun birthday bbq for Ron on an unseasonably warm day in October.
So here’s my question for you sweet friend…
How often do you cling to all the stories, thinking you can predict the future based on past events, the programming, or what that other mom said? How often do you try to control the outcome to save yourself or your people from what you think is going to happen?
What if, next time, you dropped your story, tapped into your heart, ate a few Doritos (optional) and decided to trust instead?