“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them—that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like“—Lao Tzu
Facebook Memories reminded me of this picture from 6 years ago today. I thought I’ll make it my daily blog post on going with the flow. It’s also an entertaining story.
InJuly 2011, while working at Google, I was on a business trip to San Francisco. I used to live in the city before I moved to London, and was happy to be back in town. I booked a hotel close to my old neighbourhood (Russian Hill) so I could hit my old coffee shops and restaurants.
I was totally jet lagged and woke up around 3:45 AM. Out of boredom, I turned on the TV, and the only program that wasn’t depressing news or infomercials was Jersey Shore. To be honest, I don’t know what’s worse. I watched two episodes out of boredom and felt I’m literally getting stupider so I have to get out of the room. The problem was that it was 6AM on a Sunday so everything was closed.
I used to love renting a bike and crossing the Golden Gate bridge to Sausalito, have a margarita by the water and take the ferry back. So I got dressed for the occasion and walked to the bike rental company. They were closed, and only due to open at 9:30 AM. Not wanting to go back to the room, I thought to myself, I’ll go for a quick run to Fort Mason, turn back around an get an early breakfast. So I started running.
Very quickly, I see a sign on the side of the road that said “Mile 2”. I figured I must be part of some kind of race, but I didn’t see anyone else running. Very quickly, people with numbers on their jerseys were running next to me, so I thought to myself, just keep going till I get tired. I had some money in my pocket for the bike rental, so worst case, I can get in a cab and get back to the hotel (this is pre-uber!).
The run was tiring but running alongside a large group of people filled me with adrenaline. The group was super diverse?—?young/old, male/female, I ran next to a woman for like 5 minutes at the same pace, and had to do a double take when I realised she had a prosthetic leg! By the time I got to Fort Mason, parents of fallen soldiers were cheering on the side of the road, encouraging people to continue and celebrate life. I felt like I had to go on.
When the adrenalin level came down and the sweat was pouring, I was able to refresh myself with a bit of water from one of those stands on the side of the road. There were also some healthy snacks (bananas) and gels. I was crossing the Golden Gate bridge, but instead of cycling, I was running it with thousands of other people. I felt connected to them somehow.
Long story short, I finished the San Francisco half marathon. But since I wasn’t planning for it, I wasn’t properly dressed for the occasion. Apologies in advance for this mental image. I was wearing a polo shirt. Not only it was drenched in water, but the chafing it caused on my nipples was so extreme, that even the water in the shower felt like too much friction. I had to literally throw baby powder on it and sleep without any covers for a couple of days ;-)
My conclusion: sometimes, you just want to go with the flow and as my friend Danny says “ride the weird wave”. I just went with it, and it stands out in my mind as one of the best experiences. The default state is not to do it.
I’d love to hear your stories of going with the flow. When is the last time you got out of your comfort zone? Did you experience positive results? Would you do it again? Thanks for reading!