Fluid and Unpredictable

Long ago, I read that it was important to stay fluid and unpredictable, and I was so charmed by those two words together that I took them as life theme. I already knew that rigidity led to nothing but grief. Rigid belief systems break at the first serious challenge, rigid social systems disintegrate and fall to rebellion, rigid lives end up bleak and unfulfilled. “Rigid” so often means “brittle,” a word that’s only attractive when it’s paired with “peanut,” but a fluid approach to the world that accepts its unpredictability with open arms and a firm conviction that chaos is, at the very least, interesting often leads to joy. Someone close to me once said, in exasperation, “You’re such a Pollyanna!” but I don’t think I’m unrealistic. I just look at change as something with huge potential, sure to make me look at the world in a new light, learn something new, become someone new. Things don’t always (or even often) turn out as I planned, but my life has never been boring. I chalk that up to fluid and unpredictable.

Or as Berkeley Breathed and Opus would say:

How did you meet joy with open arms this week?

(Also, if you’re on Daylight Savings Time and you haven’t reset your clocks, today is the day to Fall Back.)

54 thoughts on “Fluid and Unpredictable

  1. I’ve been having a hard time with the broken leg and the surgery to correct it. I’m just not used to being the helpless female, but I have to realize that right now, there are some things it is better for me not to do – like fall, or carry something heavy, etc. (It was a blow yesterday when the PA said that right now, I’m fragile. That’s not something I’m used to hearing.)

    But on the positive side, every time my DH helps me up, I throw my arms around his neck. I hold him as he pulls me up, and kiss him at the top of the lift. I’m finding joy in the small things, like waking up to the warmth of a cat snuggling against my thigh or snuggling deeper under the covers on a chilly morning.

    30+
    1. IMO the term ‘helpless female’ should be stricken from the language. It suggests that you’re helpless BECAUSE you’re female, whereas really you’re helpless because you broke your leg. Maybe substitute ‘temporarily helpless adult’. Or ‘temporarily helpless fluid and unpredictable person’.

      24+
  2. I am happy that Fiancé is alive. Home, with me. He was released from the hospital on Friday evening and we’ve been taking it slow from there. But he’s home. I’m happy I get to wrap my arms around him and hug him and say I love him. That I can roll over in the middle of the night and feel and hear him breathing beside me. That I get a second chance to love him and hug him and play games with him and laugh about silly things with him and read books with him and remenisce about games and books and things we loved as kids that often happen to be the same things, and bicker with him and just be with him, hopefully for many many years. I’m happy he didn’t go to that faraway place where I can’t come with him. So happy and thankful.

    I am happy that The Netherlands has amazing doctors that could fix him and kind and gentle nurses that could comfort and care for him. I’m happy he is already recovering fine and most likely will get out of this 10 times better than things were before.

    I am happy I have an amazing family that wrapped us both in love the last days to show us their support. That in a crisis, I have something to fall back on.

    I am also eternally happy and thankful for the love and support of the Argh-army. Crawling out of lurk and joining your ranks was definitely one of the better decisions I’ve made in my life. Thank you all. <3

    I am happy that a joke in passing from Fiancé made me wanna do things with my hands again. It might become ugly as all hell, but at least I'm crafting again.

    I, too, believe that changes are possibilities. I don't always like them, and they are rarely covenient, but they are what they are and you have to work from there. That's what we're gonna do now.

    47+
  3. Dear ladies and gentlemen,

    My name is Sven and I am Shass’s fiancé. I would like to thank you very much for your support. Shass and i had a hard time during last week but reading your heart warming messages gave us strength and happiness.

    Once again, thank you very much! I wish you all the best for the future.

    Sven

    30+
  4. I cut down trees! Saplings really, growing in places they shouldn’t, but it’s been on my To Do list forever, and so I got a little electric chain saw and I’ve been coming up with excuses for about a month now to avoid using it, but yestereday I did it! Well, it’s just a start on the saplings, only cut down about ten percent of them, but the big thing is that I faced down my fear of chain saws. The one I got is more of a glorified lopper, and there’s sort of a guard around the chain and other guards to prevent mayhem, but I was still nervous. Until the first big branch went down with ease.

    Anyway, that made me happy. The chainsaw cuts fluidly, but it’s NOT unpredictable!

    25+
    1. That’s great – I too am scared of chain saws. So far I’ve managed with hand saws, but it sounds like you’re dealing with a young woodland!

      7+
  5. I think that coming to terms with fact that my life now is not something I could ever have predicted five years and it’s probably better than I thought it would be has been hard. In a lot of ways I’m still holding on to old expectations that success is just checking off a series of boxes in the right order and that if I didn’t do that, I failed. I think I’m a lot more emphatic now, though, and a lot less likely to buy in to social norms being truth, but it still feels bad sometimes. On the other hand, some of the best parts about my life today are the most unpredictable parts, and that makes me very happy.

    24+
  6. I got to meet up with two friends yesterday that I hardly ever see. One is a writer pal who lives in Florida, and the other is a woman she introduced me to a couple of years ago who she visits yearly and who is slowly becoming a friend too. The few hours we got to spend together were filled with joy and laughter, and we hugged and hugged. (We also talked depressing writer realities, but there is joy in having someone to share that with too. Jenny, your name might have come up. lol)

    Also, we might have eaten BBQ ribs and onion rings. I don’t normally eat that way, but there was plenty of happiness there too.

    Friday night my witchy gang came over and we had a short ritual and feast for Samhain. Also joy.

    People I love and food. Apparently those are my go-to happiness things these days. And cats.

    19+
  7. There is a quote I like from one of those Wearing the Cape novels, a scene in which Hope is introducing friends to Sifu, a self defense teacher she had in high school. She wants him to foster a new breakthrough, a speedster named Jamal. She has just made tea in a formal ceremony. She says words to the effect of “Good things come. Bad things come. Accept both with equanimity.” Sifu says she’d make a living writing fortune cookies, and translates for the others, “Shit happens. Deal with it.”

    Of course, if it does happen and you deal with it fluidly… just ewwww.

    And then there is my motto: “We shall rigidly adhere to a policy of total flexibility.”

    Oh, and fluid applied to peanuts is butter.

    Sorry. My brain thinks it’s time to take the dotter to dinner, but all my clocks assure me not yet. I’m being flexible.

    9+
  8. Hmm, that reminds me of the old Bruce Lee quote, “Be like water.” I always like the video clip of him saying that.

    Happiness this week was coming up with a creative solution to a work problem and taking a lot of worry off my mind.

    I think I’m definitely good at being fluid and flexible in most things. It’s interesting how personality and how you grow up can shape that. I was a military brat and my parents looked at all the changes as a big adventure and something to be tackled with gusto and if you couldn’t manage gusto, at least with a good sense of humor.

    My father-in-law was also a military brat, but his mother hated it and was a bit of a martyr about the whole thing (in her defense, being a military spouse is no cake walk) and consequently, my father-in-law is super rigid, hates change, feels there’s one right way to do everything.

    And I wonder how much is nature and nurture? Hard to say.

    14+
    1. I’m a Navy brat (or as my mother insisted, “Navy junior” to differentiate us from Army brats 🙂 ), so I am entirely with you here. Childhood cross-country moves taught me to not bat an eye at roadtrips, and I’m really good with them as an adult now!

      4+
  9. I find myself having more get off my lawn moments and my sisters getting on my nerves and wanting them out of my hair. I find our sibling birth position and childhoods keep me slotted in that rigid box of how I was at eight or twelve. I don’t have this with my friends. My friends seem to respect me and dont diss me like my sibs. We are all close but there are times they suffocate me.

    14+
    1. I hope this helps:
      “There’s something to that in both directions,” said Ekaterin mildly. “Nothing is more guaranteed to make one start acting like a child than to be treated like one. It’s so infuriating. It took me the longest time to figure out how to stop falling into that trap.”
      “Yes, exactly,” said Kareen eagerly. “You understand! So—how did you make them stop?”
      “You can’t make them—whoever your particular them is—do anything, really,” said Ekaterin slowly. “Adulthood isn’t an award they’ll give you for being a good child. You can waste . . . years, trying to get someone to give that respect to you, as though it were a sort of promotion or raise in pay. If only you do enough, if only you are good enough. No. You have to just . . . take it. Give it to yourself, I suppose. Say, I’m sorry you feel like that, and walk away. But that’s hard.”
      ― Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign

      10+
  10. It’s 60 degrees today with beautiful blue skies and no wind. So I am being flexible and working in the yard before the fluid that is predicted later in the week comes.

    13+
  11. In Edmonton for a weekend. Visiting the big guy’s aunt and uncle. Uncle has Parkinson’s disease. He is facing the challenges with humour and optimism. They are wonderful people. He stays active but we see changes. We got tea biscuits and butter tarts to take home. So, yeah.

    Change is coming. One day full of excitement and hope. Other days I hit the bottom when fear rears it’s ugly head. Hope is winning. Rigid, only one way thinking only causes difficulties. MIL was very rigid.

    10+
  12. I have a lot to be happy about today. I got my power turned back on; the gas for my stove and hot water heater were turned back on yesterday. A new furnace (attached to the ceiling) was installed today and a neighbor brought over a friend and removed,the washer and dryer from my basement for me.
    There is so much destruction in my little neighborhood; so many foundations caved in and homes destroyed that I am extremely grateful for what I have, especially the neighbors who let me use their shower when I didn’t have hot water, the ones who came over and asked ifI needed any help, the people who came, even not knowing any of us, and offered help cleaning up.

    19+
  13. I enjoyed having a friend to stay – we still seem to gel, which is great. Also hung out with fellow artists a couple of times this week, and heard about a regular monthly meet-up in the community pub that I’ll go to next week.

    Flexibly decided to grab the sunshine and take today and tomorrow as my weekend. It’s great to take a break from proof-reading 100 pages of messed-up notes and references in Italian (which I don’t speak).

    And I am hopeful that all the changes happening in the world right now will lead to better things.

    10+
    1. Jane, how do you proof-read in a language you don’t speak? I’m professionally curious. We get our website translated and have to check that we haven’t munged the translation when we add it to the website. If you’ve got a good technique going, I’d appreciate hearing about it!

      3+
      1. I think what you need is a native speaker to do your checking. I presume the author will also be reading my proofs (they’re his references); and Penguin may have arranged for an Italian-speaker to check. (Since the author’s an academic, I know they sometimes get a student to read their proofs.)

        All I can do is see if the Italian looks convincing. (I did spot an adjective missing its ending, which I found in another reference to the same work; but I was also querying ‘ed’ until there were several of them and I discovered it’s a variant of ‘e’ (‘and’).) Plus, of course, check each instance in the notes letter-by-letter against the Bibliography, and either query or Google inconsistencies.

        3+
        1. Thanks! Our Italian (etc) team checks it, in theory. In practice, I suspect they don’t, or not consistently. Pushing for that happening more reliably sounds like the way to go.

          4+
  14. I always liked “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can”

    People often let big dreams overwhelm them, so they don’t even try to take baby steps towards it.

    12+
  15. Was not so cheery about the efforts required taking my halloween decorations down, but at least they are all in and down in the basement, if not yet put away. I did eat nice things and read good things, and snuggle with cats though, so more good than crabby.

    8+
  16. I baked. I made cinnamon bread with cream cheese frosting and a gluten-free, dairy-free blueberry coffee cake that actually tasted pretty good. It wasn’t as good as the cinnamon bread w/frosting, but for something relatively healthy, it was nice. I shared them with folks I volunteered with this weekend. I was surprised the coffee cake had more takers. This actually left me with leftover cinnamon bread, which has been consumed. I experienced joy when eating it.

    I was also joyful for the extra hour of sleep this morning. I still had to get up an hour earlier than normal for volunteering, but that is better than 2 hours early!

    9+
  17. I’m happy that my sister, who has been recovering from shoulder reconstruction surgery, feels well enough to drive again. The challenge of coordinating 3 schedules to go to the produce market has made it impossible for us to shop together the way we do every few months. Since we had an enormous amount of food stamps saved, we loaded her cart with all the good fruits and veggies she hadn’t been able to lift before. When we got to the cash register, the cashier said, “That chicken was buy 1, get 1 free. Do you want another package?” And as a reward, I imagine I will be offered a jar or 2 of homemade applesauce in a few weeks. Time released happiness.

    Deb talked about sharing food with the ones you love as a source of happiness. When I was growing up, that was the start of all celebrations. First we would all cook together, which would turn into an excuse to invite over the people we enjoyed. Even when there were 3 of us in college at the same time, sharing a meal was a way to entertain when there wasn’t an entertainment budget, per se.

    11+
  18. Some times the things Jenny comes out with mean I have to respond.

    Fluid and unpredictable. In March my husband’s boss asked him how he feels about moving to Japan for a project (background, we’ve been living a Fly In/Fly Out life for 20 years). The kids are all out, working, studying, he and I are ready to live together for a change, so it’s perfect timing. They pushed and discussed and dodged, but eventually a start date of September 1st was set, giving us three months to get our shit together.

    Our shit is a perpetual renovation. When you live in it, finished becomes a fairly fluid term. Architraves and skirting boards aren’t necessary to life, functionality has been all we’ve really had to have. Unfortunately in order to rent one’s house, it really needs to be finished, not fluid, set in stone, finished.

    We got into it, bought tradesmen (we usually do it all ourselves, but he was still working away and would only be home for about half the 3 months), spend obscene amo7nts of money, found a tenant, culled, packed.
    One week into August the project went on hold. Unpredictable. It’s only on hold, not cancelled. I’ve kept our tenant, stolen my mother’s spare house (she lets it on Airbnb), shoehorned my kitchen and mattress into an otherwise furnished house and rolled with it.

    Ok, that’s a lie. I raged, I cried, I sulked, then I got on with it.

    My tenant is great, my mother is thrilled to have me home, I may live in Japan one day, but if I don’t…. nevermind. Change is exciting.

    I think the worst bit (apart from we spent our savings) is that my dogs have abandoned me and live just across the garden with my mother.

    Sorry! That was quite large, but definitely goes with the theme

    15+
    1. Do I have this right? You make a decision. Your guy is mostly gone so not only do you spend a lot of money to pay someone else to do the work. You have to supervise the work. And pack. And probably vet the tenant. Then it goes on hold and you have to figure out where to live while hold is going on and what stuff you need right away to live in temporary housing. Raging and crying make no difference. You are one flexible babe.

      13+
      1. Thank you, it’s what we aim for. I don’t like it when the “poor me” s creep in. No idea why letting a little honest (negative) emotion makes me feel a failure!

        I guess triumph takes many forms, not everyone’s victory looks the same…

        And thanks again for believing in my fluidity (in the face of unpredictability)

        0
  19. Allen Saunders: Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.

    I like plans. They give me something to ignore. Seriously, I feel happier when I have a plan, but things hardly go according to that plan and that doesn’t bother me at all.

    I spent the weekend at a retreat. There were some ah-hah moments, but the main highlight was getting to see a bunch of people who travelled for the retreat. Having people obviously as pleased to see me again as I was to see them was great. There’s a lovely community around these retreats and I stumbled across them accidentally – it wasn’t at all what I planned to be doing with my life at the moment but it’s brought so much into my life.

    9+
  20. I spent the weekend in Richmond with friends, which is always a joy. Sadly missed the Nationals victory parade, but I watched it on television, and that was okay. I wish they had chosen to be otherwise engaged when they were invited to the White House (as the Virginia men’s basketball team did earlier this year), but

    I’m not by nature a fluid person, but I’ve been taught by life that it’s necessary, so I’ve come to embrace it–or at least accept it. You can’t change that things will change/not go according to plan, so why rail against it (for long–everyone’s allowed some railing!)?

    4+
  21. New phone wasn’t responding to the touch screen sometimes, so I took it in to get diagnosed. They had some issues in Repair and two hours later ended up issuing me a new phone. Now that I have a new one, I realize the old one had more problems than just that. So it all worked in the end and I’m happier. But doing without my augmented memory was frustrating, yet a reminder to stay flexible and present.

    4+
  22. I like plans, too. Sometimes they work out. Mostly I just try keeping track of where and when I have to be places and when I have to do house/yard work.

    Then I can handle the surprise that is Jazzy. No heartworm but he does have Lyme and kennel cough. A month of antibiotics is so much better than the heartworm treatment.

    5+
  23. Getting a crash course in fluid over the next little while. I’m retiring from the day job December 31, and we are taking a huge leap: selling the house and moving to Portugal next year. It’s been a dream of ours to live in Europe (it takes a long time to fly there from California) and Portugal ticks off so many boxes: we love it (most important box), big expat community, English widely spoken (although we are learning Portuguese, of course), low cost of living, and relatively easy for retirees to get a residency visa.

    We are beyond excited to be doing this.

    16+
  24. Late to the party, so probably no one will notice this, but our trip to Kenya and Tanzania was a real lesson in being fluid and going with the flow. We were bounced from expected flights by soccer teams, our visit with our World Vision child was a day earlier than we expected. The saddest thing was that one of our friends, the Bishop of the diocese where we were staying, lost his Mom while we were there. That meant that all kinds of plans had to be re-made by everyone around. The drive to his Mom’s village, so we could pay respects, was over a very muddy road and our Land Cruiser was stuck in ditches twice for over two hours (no such thing as AAA!). Still, our short visit with him was good and worth while and meant something to all of us.

    The theme for the trip: plans change. Embrace them. You will be where you need to be when you need to be there.

    10+
  25. I’m reminded of a line that friends who taught in China gave me, supposedly from that country: Be like the young bamboo that bends in the winds.
    I couldn’t do it then and I don’t do it very well now, decades later.
    I’m not very flexible or fluid, though I hate to think I’m rigid. But I am inordinately
    fond of my routines, my to-do lists, and my schedules.

    5+
  26. I met joy by writing a stack of letters of encouragement to women recently diagnosed with breast cancer. I met joy by revisiting my morning journal after a lull which became an unfortunate summer-long dissociation. I met (and by met I mean confronted) joy by developing and framing a photograph of the place at Ruby Beach, Oregon where were we scattered Erin’s ashes two Aprils ago. I’m not ready to hang it yet but I know where it will go. Beauty for ashes? It’s a bad trade. So, no. There is a good emotional upswing to be found in the southern California sunshine and I am happy that we accepted the relocation. I think Hope and Joy are kissing cousins.

    5+

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