Life and Flow: How We See The Ups And Downs Within Life’s Seasons
We’ve previously written about the seasons of one’s life, and the importance of knowing what season one is currently living through. This knowledge and awareness help us to not only be more content but to also frame our life from a certain perspective that takes advantage of all the opportunities and moments that the current season is offering.
Seasons are entered and exited as life carries us along, encountering major events or milestones: leaving home, our first professional job, getting married, having children, getting promotions or encountering opportunities, traveling and exploring. There is a pattern in the typical stages of an individual’s life and it’s important to recognize that our priorities will often change with them. It’s also important to look at how we handle not only the seasons of our lives in a larger, macro sense but also our daily experiences and actions within those seasons. The daily ebb and flow of life are really where the rubber meets the road in our experiences, and it’s best to maintain a larger perspective even on the smaller events.
The Ebb And Flow
Ebb and flow are terms which refer to incoming and outgoing tides at the ocean shore. When we refer to the ebb and the flow of daily life, we are referring to the continuous movement within the seasons of our lives: some days things are expanding and we are at the high water mark, we are positive and optimistic. Other days it seems that we are contracting and the tide might be running out on us, leaving us scrambling for a footing.
The ebb and the flow are the details, the minutiae of our daily routines and experiences: who we interact with, how we are feeling, what we are thinking about, what has our attention, and where we are placing our focus. All of these make up our framework for how we experience each day. And they go up and down, sometimes within the very same day, depending on the situation. Some individuals build us up, others tear us down. Some activities really fire up our engines, others are a drag and exceedingly tedious. We are not solitary islands and our environments will work effects upon us.
Not A Cause For Concern
All of us will get down or dispirited at times or have days when, despite glowing sunshine and opportunities, the world looks gray and we think “Vanity…it’s all just vanity…what’s the point of all this effort?” We question our goals, our plans, or our path forward. But we should not allow temporary glitches to be causes of great concern. Today’s experience is not necessarily who we are or even who we are truly becoming; we do not know our future yet. Today’s setback is not the end of the line; it’s a momentary bump in the road.
Instead of unwinding the conviction and energy we have for our goals, these setbacks amidst the ebb and flow can be training grounds for emotional and spiritual endurance. They can test our resolve and reveal to us if we truly want to keep going along our current course. This will be especially true if we have yet to see much success in our efforts. Setbacks can be difficult, and they can make us question our plans, but let’s not have them become such a cause for concern that they derail us entirely. We must see them in their proper context: a part of the daily changing of the tide. We do not have to feel incredible or be incredible every day, but we do need to show up and keep putting one foot in front of the other. The marathon is won by the runners who do not stop, not the fastest ones out of the gate.
Not every day is going to be an euphoric, amazing, “hold onto your seat!” ride. It’s an impossibility and eventually even wonder and beauty become common and blasé if we see them constantly. There appears to be an expectation among our current Passion Culture Warriors that each day, every day should be the most amazing thing you have ever experienced. Every day should find you up at the crack of dawn, happy and healthy, and ready to take a big ole bite out of whatever amazingness the world has to offer.
The problem with that outlook is that when it invariably does not pan out over time, we become angst-ridden, wondering what is the matter with our attitude, passion, resolve, or plans. The reality is that all of those things could be perfectly fine, but life is not a recurring trip to Disney’s Magic Kingdom, and sometimes our daily obligations and duties are flat out stressful and tiring.
After 90 days, the new job is just a job.
After 90 days, the pay raise is just your wage.
After 90 days, the exciting new toy/routine/opportunity inevitably breaks down, comes under stress, or hits a rough patch.
This is an annoying thing called REALITY.
But if our expectations are not completely founded on the daily shuffle and winds, then we can better weather them. We need to make sure that the expectations of our days, of our life’s seasons, are properly aligned and anchored in foundational things in our life. We need to ensure that the underlying value we see in ourselves, and the purpose that we are striving for, is not easily buffeted about or derailed by the slight movement of the daily tide.
Amidst the ebb and flow, we need to be flexible and cut ourselves some slack. All of us have obligations and demands on our time. Many of us have others who are depending on us each day. We need to be flexible in how we tackle these obligations and still ensure we are working towards our goals and priorities. The schedules or routines might change, but don’t let it change your priorities, particularly if you still value and cherish those priorities and aspirations.
Perhaps we simply need new tactics or routines, different tools in the toolbox now, to tackle those goals. If your priorities and goals are going to change it needs to be for the BIG STUFF, such as meeting your future spouse, holding your child for the first time, or realizing the activities or goals that deeply resonate and move your life. The daily events that make up the ebb and flow are just way-points along the road, and we should try to take them in stride before we allow them to change our destination.
How do you balance staying focused, but also being flexible, in the ebb and flow of daily life?
When days are difficult, do you have any tactics or exercises that help you weather the storm?
Originally published at https://fjwriting.com on October 11, 2018.