Making like Dory

Dory is Marlin's friend on his journey across the oceans to find his missing son in the movie, Finding Nemo.  She has short-term memory loss; she is hopelessly optimistic, open, kind; when things go wrong, she sings, 'Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.'

Making like Dory is keeping on swimming through life even when it feels complicated or tiring or tough; making like Dory means letting go of old stuff that's weighing you down so that you can swim more lightly through life; making like Dory means staying open-hearted, no matter how many times that proves painful.  We swim on through it all.  Even when we are ill, or held up, or worried about those we love.  As Isabel Allende said of learning to live after her daughter died, "one day you get up and you want some chocolate, you meet a friend for a coffee; life goes on"  We just keep swimming.

It is important, though, that we learn how to swim with life and not against it.  Life has a flow to it and if we learn to accept that flow, then we find we can more easily swim.  All the great teachings tell us this is so: ideas of acceptance, surrender, love for what we have, appreciation of our small but important place in the universe permeate writing from many (if not all) of the great gurus and poets of the world, past and present, from Rumi to Eckhart Tolle, Julian of Norwich to William Blake.  They tell us that if we would only give up the struggle and see how the river flows (not always the way we want, but always with the opportunity for growth and deeper understanding), then life will be easier.  It is easier when you let go.

The theory is most beautifully elucidated in the teachings of The Dao, the ancient Chinese philosophy of Lao Tze; in The Dao de Jing Lao Tze tells us that there is a universal rightness, the way of nature.  Rather like the existence of gravity, this is simply the way the universe operates and if you go with that flow, then you can achieve almost anything, if however you resist it, or go against it, then you will surely hit a brick wall.  As Martin Palmer puts it: there's a boulder in the way - you can strive to remove it, but the Daoist approach would be to go round it, to go underneath it, to accept its presence and flow around it, adapt and over time water and weather will wear it away until it is a pebble and gets washed away.

Eckhart Tolle says: "What could be more futile, more insane, than to fight something that already is?  It means that you're opposing life itself, which is now and  always now.  Say yes to life and see how things start working for you rather than against you."

If you feel exhausted, low, conflicted, unsettled, unhappy, then the chances are that you are swimming against the flow; yet we have all experienced those moments when everything seems to come together at the right time and all doors seem to open for us without effort.  Flow is available to us all.

I think a good place to start learning how to flow with life, how to become a surfer on its seas rather than a discarded bottle subject to every roll and crash of each wave until we get smashed somewhere against some rock or other, is to begin with hope.  What do you hope for?  Don't be afraid of what you hope for.  Write it down.  Let it live somewhere in black and white on a piece of paper or in a notebook.  Look at it often.  Allow that hope to become something real, but not by striving, pushing, arguing, feeling annoyed or disenchanted, but by staying open to its possibility and true to yourself.

Marlin: How do you know that nothing bad won't happen?
Dory: I don't ... Just keep swimming, just keep swimming



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