I always liked the phrase, “Go with the flow.” It is one of those great bits of advice that encourages the observation of the obvious. We’ve had a lot of “flow” down here in the San Luis Valley this spring/summer with the rivers being so high and people from Texas (sorry, but it’s true) trying to drive their jeeps across the rivers anyway.
But I’m not sure we should always follow it. I think it depends on what the “flow” is. If it’s a river running high and fast, yeah. If it’s the ascendancy of evil? I am not sure. The I-Ching (which is all about going with the flow) advises to make progress in the good as a way to fight evil. I think that’s good advice, but no two people are going to agree about what “the good” is.
As part of learning about China, I studied the I-Ching a little, not so much as a tool of divination but as work of philosophy. It has a lot to say about danger and how to escape. Sometimes you can’t escape. You simply have to survive. That’s the message of Hexagram 29, danger. The image is water on water. That’s about as fucked as it gets because, apparently, this abyss is not yet full at which point the water would begin to drain away.
The lines are interesting, too. In the first line, a person is trapped underwater and makes everything worse by going into an underground cavern which is 100% likely to be flooded. In another line the poor guy is unable to make up his mind and ultimately ends up in the same cavern. There’s little possibility for progress in this hexagram. It’s all “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” But it doesn’t matter what you do, determine to stay and wait it out or fight your way out of the hole, you’re in deep, uh, uh, water. The only solution is to let the water carry you out of the abyss; to do that, you must float… If you float you are literally “going with the flow.”
Five years ago today — according to my Facebook memories — I filled out the paperwork to list my house in Descanso, CA, and put it on the market. The date I chose for that was July 18. Did I want to? No, not really. I’d hoped — planned — to retire there in the friendly mountains and live in the enchanted cottage forever. I picked that day because it was the six-year anniversary of ejecting the Evil X from my house, AND it would be the last day I would ever teach anyone anything (on purpose). Everyone said I was brave, the courage part was long over by the time I listed my house. It took courage to see what was really in front of me, to face reality, the flooding river. That happened in the Antler’s Hotel in Colorado Springs in March of that year when, after looking at some houses in Colorado Springs, I filled out my retirement papers. I didn’t want to, but I felt I was being pushed by powerful and invisible forces.
Leaving teaching and leaving CA were two things I hadn’t imagined, but the two wondrous things had been transformed from something great to the abyss. Staying would shove me further and further underwater financially, and I had grown to hate a job I had always loved. Fighting it was absurd and I loved Colorado. I allowed myself to float to the top of that mess. I remember vividly the night I left for good. I locked the front door and drove down the mountain. I stopped at McDonalds for dinner which I ate in the car. I felt as if I were weightless.