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Go With The Flow

Story ID:4909
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Caldwell Idaho USA
Year:2009
Person:All of us
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Go With The Flow

Scientists studying fish behavior have made fascinating discoveries. The thing I
found most interesting, was how fish swim upstream or in rough waters. Their research
indicates fish negotiate turbulent waters using an efficient method that literally allows
them to “go with the flow.”

Rocks and branches, beneath the surface of a river, create strings of small
whirlpools or “vortices” in the water. Fish swimming upstream, manage to make their
way though this turbulence without tiring themselves.

A fish’s body is similar to the sail on a boat or the wings on an airplane. Their
swimming style resembles a flag flapping in the wind, which allows the spinning water to
pull them forward. It’s similar to a sailboat tacking back and forth to move forward
against the wind. When a stream of water flows around the fish, it produces thrust,
pushing the fish forward. The fish actually slalom through the vortices.

With sensors attached to the fish, the scientists discovered fish use less energy
swimming this way than simply swimming head first into the currents.

Perhaps we can learn something from this. Life is a river. We’re the fish. There
are always strong currents and vortices ahead. The people who handle them best, are the
ones who use them to propel themselves forward. Those who go headfirst into the
current, grow tired and frustrated, and washed backward.

Seven months after I lost my first wife, I sat at my desk, wearing a black shirt.
I looked down. The shirt was covered with white specks. I hadn’t noticed them when
I dressed that morning.

I’m very careful when doing laundry. I check the pockets for Kleenex, or
whatever my son may leave in his. I missed something. My shirt was a mess.

I looked pathetic. I knew my co-workers were making comments behind my back.
I was a young widower, working in a stressful job, trying to survive. The current was
strong. I was swimming poorly. I wanted the day to end.

Later that day, my boss came up to me. “Mike, do you have a moment?”

Our company was in trouble. Business wasn’t going well. The look on his face
told me what was coming. “It’s that time?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

I followed him to the conference room
and was handed my package: two weeks
severance pay - not much. It was better than my co-workers received. A week later, their
pay checks bounced.

The company shut down.

I came home in a daze. I’d lost my wife and now was out of work. What was I
going to do? How could life be so cruel?

I thought of the fish. They knew how to deal with a strong force and take
advantage of it. I decided to go with the flow.

The force of the water didn’t push me back. I swam like the fish and used the
current to propel me forward. I struggled, but I found another job. In an eddy, I found
new love.

My life came together. I swam like the fish and went with the flow.

Won’t you join me? The water’s fine. Let’s go with the flow.

Michael T. Smith