Control or Flow?

She listened…sort of. She heard, “You can’t control what others think, feel, or how they respond to you. You speak your truth and they take what they are willing to hear or absorb and you move on. DON’T CARRY THEIR RESPONSE WITH YOU! Let it just be–let it go.” She nodded, as the voices in her head countered the words as quickly as they entered her ears from outside. “But…but… injustice? Fairness? Making it right? What about knowing they can be better off if…” Then she glanced up at the friend trying to save her from herself, her almost too empathic heart that was its own Don Quixote out tipping the windmills to make things different. She saw an eye roll, a sad face searching her own. Both the listener and the speaker sighed.

She knew the conversation would not be taking place if her friend didn’t truly care. Not a word would have been said. Maybe a shrug or dismissal, a change of subject as she bemoaned the state of current events from tears to rage flooding her. No, you don’t call someone on something detrimental to them, offer advice to help another if you didn’t care. But…once the advice, the caring is shared, it is ultimately up to the receiver of such advice to choose to listen or not, apply it or not, offer it and allow freedom of choice or… Then she heard, “Would you want to control others? Make them think a certain way regardless? All a bunch of people with one mindset?” That required an immediate and present response! “Of course not!” she said. “Just offer it and let them each choose. We don’t want a bunch of automatons running around!” And her head and heart joined to conclude, “It’s the differences that make people so wonderful and diverse–that make us human… that can spawn both good and evil, love and hate. No, no one should have complete and total control.” A deep breath and even deeper inner sigh. There was no percentage in controlling people and their beliefs and actions if they themselves didn’t want it or desire it. Control was its own worst enemy in the realm of free thought and choice. Another sigh and dilemma internally. A universal truth that had plagued humankind since the beginning was weighing heavy. Then…

There was a smile. A genuine, from the heart smile. It lit up the face. She looked at it, and felt it moving into her being. What had brought it on? She didn’t know, didn’t question. She just absorbed it. It was flowing from the friend to her. She found herself smiling also. The penetrating and overwhelming questions that had created consternation and confusion melted with the warmth of the smile. They slid into the background with other rhetorical questions and puzzlements that would never be answered by the heart that sought so much without appreciating what it already had. She smiled and smiled. Why? Because it felt good and she felt in the “flow” of it. She was no longer bucking or fighting something–she was literally flowing with the intense enjoyment of the simple smile offered.

She thought of this as she still smiled, hours later, in her room, alone with her thoughts. No, she couldn’t control others, make them feel the empathy and passion she felt–and she knew she didn’t truly want to. But she could share a smile, without words or explanation, and leave it up to those she smiled at to decide to “go with the flow” or choose not to. And it wasn’t her responsibility to choose for them, worry about their choice, or carry their decision with her. No control, but literally and figuratively, flowing with the good feeling from smiling and sharing the smile.

Her connotation of CONTROL brought mental images of cages, walls, restrictive bindings around heads and hands and feet. Her connotation of FLOW offered images of water bouncing over rocks, sand, moving with the natural gravity that allows it to keep going without stopping to question that one large rock or push the small pebble it washes over. She thought how water always soothed and calmed her, gave her a feeling of life and continuity. She remembered the pain of being controlled and how she fought so hard NOT to be controlled…And the smile…

The next day, she rose early, went outside to watch the birds, the awakening activity of the neighborhood. As others came out of their houses, she simply focused on them and when they looked toward her, she smiled. That’s all. Just smiled. ALL persons wound up returning the smile, even after some seemed hesitant at first. No words, just a smile. They departed doing their thing, still wearing the smile they chose to absorb–going with the flow. No control, no admonitions–just the people who saw her returning her smile. Would she have been disappointed had they not smiled back? No. It was there for them. Take it or leave it. But her own smile was more radiant, reaching deeper within her…because she was going with the FLOW. She knew the day ahead and the days to come were going to be good.

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