Flow: To move or run smoothly with unbroken continuity, as in the manner characteristic of a fluid.
In 1974, renowned neurologist and author, Oliver Sacks, M.D., had an unfortunate encounter with a bull on a mountain in Norway and severely injured his leg. In A Leg To Stand On, Sacks describes the medical journey he took, not as a physician but as a patient traveling a healing path.
After surgeons repaired his leg, Sacks became terrified by the thought of learning to walk again. On his first day of physical therapy, he had no idea where his left leg was and compared the lifeless limb to a “lump of jelly.”
Despite his physiotherapists’ efforts to help him take just one step, Sacks’ fears immobilized him. When, at last, he clumsily succeeded, he called his robotic motion unanimal, unhuman. “Will I never get back the feel of true walking…which is natural, spontaneous, and free?” he wondered.
His answer came in a moment of grace. In his mind, Sacks heard a beloved Mendelssohnian melody playing and he began walking, easily, joyfully, with the music. “…in the very moment that my ‘motor’ music, my kinetic melody, my walking, came back – in this self-same moment the leg came back. Suddenly, with no warning, no transition whatever, the leg felt alive, and real, and mine, its moment of actualization precisely consonant with the spontaneous quickening, walking and music”
Describing the exhilaration he felt when he just let go and fell into the rhythm, tempo, pulsion, and feel of walking instead of calculating and mechanically trying to perform each step, Sacks recalled other, less spectacular, times he knew that feeling. “The experience was so common I had hardly given it a thought, but now, I suddenly realized, the experience was fundamental. …Everything was transformed, absolutely, in that moment, in that leap from a cold fluttering and flashing to the warm stream of music, the stream of action, the stream of life.”
Affirmation: Going with the flow places me in the stream of life.