There are so many cliches floating around about “flow” these days that the idea has become bland. Rather than bringing to mind the ceaseless variations and fast moving intricacies of a river, flow now means something more like “placid.” A too long day spent near the never ending REI river. Sunburnt and drowned out by the white noise of “flow,” we pack up our exhausting sports cars and instagram the shit out of that flow. More serious practitioners of flow lament…”people aren’t mindful, they’re just cruising along unconsciously,” like so many pieces of flotsam and jetsam, all curiosity jettisoned, the serious practitioner of flow has no taste for this eco-diversity. He doesn’t like fish; he’s a vegetarian. Wants them out of his river. Builds a net called, “mindful eating.”
The ideas of flow are many, and that’s because the idea of flow itself reflects those fast moving variations, rapid changes, and countless diversities. When flow becomes a belief, a singularity, too much a concept rather than water moving here and there over boulders and logs, it becomes a manic defense against the mania of diversity, against multiplicity, and against the inherent dynamism between patterns and unpredictability. You see we don’t want to have to do that kind of work. We don’t want the “never the same river twice” kind of awareness that comes when we actually put our feet into the river, rather than taking pictures next to it and wearing the costume of a concept called “flow.” We’d rather practice a sequence we can flow through from start to finish, perfectly. We’d rather the idea of flow bedazzle our lives with the aura of perfection. How did we come to think that the idea of flow is both all encompassing, natural, singular, and perfect? Sunburnt and asleep near “a” river that’s how…a little too much wine and someone mumbled, “it’s all ONE big river.”
The laziness of flow thus become monotony…mono-toned…and we take up that ancient image of the suffering souls in Hades…endlessly pouring water into a bucket with holes.
I’m being hard on flow right now. Like putting my feet into the river. Trying to point out the boulders here and there. Watch out for that log, and do you see that strange debris? What is that?
With Saturn in square to the Pisces energy, from Sagittarius, we are reminded that the disruption of flow in our lives is a crucial part of how we learn to understand the nature of something particular. Saturn’s interruptions of our dreams, of our innocence, of our reveries or bliss factories, isn’t about cruelty or “reality,” it’s about particularity. The holes in our bucket of flow can’t get sealed until we learn the importance of disruption.
When our bliss oriented lifestyle patterns, our mindfulness, our routines, our dreams, our fantasies, or even our pain and complaints are interrupted, when something interjects, we have to imagine that a leaky hole is being plugged just as readily as we might imagine that we’re being, “blocked.”
There’s all this talk about blockage…removing blocks, working through blocks, etc, as if the goddess of the mighty, singular river, Jehovah as rushing river queen, has so totally dominated our imagination that all blocks are seen only in terms of enhancing a unified flow. But what if this manic defensiveness about blocks, what if this constant attention to blocks and clearing blockages or interpreting their karmic meaning, is nothing more than the image of those poor souls in Hades, endlessly pouring water into a bucket filled with more and more new holes?
What if blocks are invitations to particularize? Like that strange feeling you get when something dies or ends…you suddenly and instantly “know its nature.” Rather than remove our blocks, maybe we’re supposed to study them, reflect upon them, and try to see their faces. Grant them a little more autonomy, and chill out about removing them. By doing this maybe the leaks becomes plugs, and our psychic vessels becomes a little sturdier?
This brings us to the idea of wounds and woundedness or the wounded-healer, which have all somehow come to symbolize a person who has gotten really good at bailing water from their leaky barrel. “I’ve learned to work through my blocks…of course I’m still working through them, but I realize that it’s all because I’m meant to heal and help the world.” So we have these inflated team captains in Hades, constantly rallying our efforts to fill the barrel filled with holes, convincing the poor souls the effort is going to pay off eventually, “Faster. With a smile. Fake it until you make it gang. You’re here because we’re all team captains. We’re all wounded healers!”
The problem is that as long as we see blockages IN TERMS of flow, as long as they are “obstacles” to flow, then boulders in the river become degraded and objectified rather than studied, reflected upon, learned about, cared for, related to, and allowed to exist in their own ways. When we reflect upon those logs and sandbars, here now there, we are soul making. We are creating psychic life. An ecosystem rather than a problem to be solved for the sake of the monotheistic river goddess. A barrel with plugged holes, rather than holes with a barrel.
This means that wounded healers aren’t actually the people who are great at removing blocks. No. It means they are good at helping people reflect upon the diversity of objects that shape psychic life. Wounded healers plug holes and teach people how to stop bailing water. They bring us back to the imaginative capacity to experience flow rather than be flowed to death by it. The eddies and changes of speed, the jams and erosion patterns, the ten thousand year old boulders and the moving face of sandbars and deep pools…these become the terrain of psychic individuality. The wounded healer is like an eco tour-guide in this regard.
One last thought. This is not about balance, either. The obsession with balance is like the obsession with blockages. Imbalance is perhaps the most crucial element of psychic diversity and particularity. We are who we are because of the shape of our imbalance.
All of these thoughts are reflections of Saturn’s current conversation with Neptune and Venus.
Prayer: The ecology of our problems. The flora and fauna of our pain. The bacteria of our strengths. Help us to reclaim the strangeness of the word “flow.”