Thomas is an NYC-based designer living in Brooklyn.

He writes, codes, designs a lot of different things, and loves taking photos + videos.

He's got the best friends and family supporting him through this journey, and he's always looking to meet new fabulous people to talk to. So!

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Go With The Flow

July 12, 2019

Go with the flow. It's always been a mantra of mine. To me, its parallel to the line "...but by all means, keep moving" spoken by Dr. King. I love those lines so much, I got it tattooed on my fucking arm. However, I've sometimes pushed that phrase to its limits where its put me in some dire situations - like the time I ended up in a blizzard in the middle of nowhere on a single lane road in the Isle of Skye, unable to move forward cause I couldn't see past ten feet, having a staring contest with a highland cow that I could've sworn was a mythical creature from a distance. All I could hear at that moment in my head was the voice of the stubborn bike shop owner that I convinced to let me rent, ahem, *insert your best Scottish accent here* "You're gonna die if you take this bike out. Storms comin', and you're not from around here. It can get nasty!"

As bad as that may sound, the blizzard eventually cleared up, and I took that damn bike to my final destination at the base of the Old Man of Storr and back to my hostel afterwards. It was one of the most glorious bike rides of my life. If I didn't push my "go with the flow" mentality then, who knows, I may have been scared shitless by the bike store owner, and turned back around to my hostel to twiddle my thumbs in a flash snowstorm. I would have missed, what was one of the best adventures of my life.

There's one portion of my life that this motto gets completely blocked out in, and thats career. I remember the time when I was perched atop a rock with my best friend after hiking through the gorgeous Dinosaur National Park on our multi-day backpacking trip. It was golden hour. We may or may not have been coming down from our first mushroom trip ever. We were sitting on some really old rocks. What better place than this to have a deep conversation with your best homie about life? He asked me the question "How do you continue to chase after these random bits time after time, and seemingly keep your head straight to the next thing?" At that time, I was a second year architecture student, working on several, extremely random projects/jobs that were as far away from architecture as possible. I explained to my friend at the time, that I sort of see it as an old war room set up, with a map and pieces scattered across it. You set one piece as your final destination (of course, set to change as you conquer the territories between where you currently are, and the final destination), and you set a few smaller pieces along the route. This way, you can have laser focus on that one thing at the moment, and pour your soul and energy into it.

There is no calculation, no equation, purely gut. Trust yourself on the fact that what you're doing is what you innately want to be doing. If you question yourself, change course immediately. There is no going with the flow here, cause the moment you're stuck in a stream you don't want to be in, you might lose several hours, days, even years getting pushed by a shitty current that you can't swim upstream on.

So where am I going with all this? 

Lately I've realized that maybe this isn't such a great way to go about it either. Putting horse blinders on can be good in certain cases, but it can also feed to the continuing anxiety of feeling like a wandering nomad, never learning where to exchange your duffle bag for a set of drawers. I've struggled in the last couple years to place my pieces in between the final destination and my current self. In turn, this has muddied my vision of the final destination as well. Stricken by the feeling of being lost, its hard to swim sometimes because you don't know where you're going. I realized that this is a tough feeling because of the mentality I've put towards my career, the anti-go-with-the-flow attitude.

After thinking deeply about this for some time, I realized that there is a compromise. I still think its useful to throw that piece as far as you'd like to. Whatever your final goal is at the moment, something that seems impossible to achieve (nothing is impossible, but you know what I mean), and leave it there, and forget about it. Set your direction that way, and start walking. This way, you don't lose sight of the end goal. It'll help you answer your questions about, why you're doing what you're doing in that moment. However, during the journey to the piece you threw, don't be afraid to go with the flow a little bit. Trust your gut, and make that lemonade from the lemons life gives you. I think this portion of the compromise helps with feeling lost. You're never lost. You're just steering in the ways you need to, in order to keep moving forward. Walk a clear line between getting stuck in a current you don't want to be in, and doing what you're doing because there's something useful to you there.

See what I'm getting at?

The worst thing to do, is to mindlessly perform activities and tasks that have no meaningful end game. The piece you threw some time ago, that'll help you guide your way through the menial tasks and activities that are required of you on a daily basis. Filter it. Pick what you're learning thats useful from it, and be the master sponge. Once you're done learning, pick the next thing. If you can't find it anymore? Probably means you're on a slip-n-slide straight down that stream we all hate. Thats getting stuck in the current. Swim out of that, grab onto the rocks, go underwater for 10 seconds to see whats under you, but by all means, get - the - fuck - out. Time is data (now, the world's most precious resource). Don't waste it! 

Please don't get the phrase "go with the flow" confused with the hippy connotation. I am surely a hippy at heart, but my intentions of going with the flow are much different than being stoned at 12PM and seeing where the day takes me (although this is highly necessary at times, to sit, chill, and perhaps blankly stare at the wall to let your brain go places). Its a wonderful phrase when you follow it fruitfully. Don't stress about where you're gonna go, or where you're going, just know that you're going somewhere, and that you'll do the things you're doing now 100% to get there in a healthy mental state.

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