Colorado Life

Tuesday – Guanella Pass, Elevation 11,670′

Monday – Cathedral Spires, 8,580′

The Flow

For the last several months I’ve been trying to live in the Flow. In my opinion, the Flow represents both physical and spiritual energy that is always surrounding us. A natural progression of events and happenings, culminating in a life lived in harmony with our surroundings.

I have come to believe that Flow can be found in everything. Starting with birth and ending in death, there is a flow to our lives. At times, especially when our ego is working overtime, we are not aware of Flow. Flow becomes apparent when we take the time to calm our mind, to jettison the baggage accumulated during the day and invite the Flow into our inner domain.

My thoughts about Flow have been shaped by events that have impacted my life. A few years ago, my wife and I relocated to Colorado. The move represented a jump into the unknown; a career opportunity for my wife and a reset for me. I’d been in the advertising business for four decades. As with all careers, there were ups and downs and I prided myself on being able to reinvent and reposition as needed to adjust to business cycles. However, the perfect storm of digital disruption, social mayhem (social media), private equity buyouts and the great recession proved to be too much for my small agency to overcome.

In my first few months upon arriving in Colorado, I brought the aspirations and vision of the agency business to our new location.  I concentrated on gaining business contacts and pitching new clients to fuel the reinvention of the agency. While I enjoyed a few successes, there was more rejection and disinterest than I anticipated. My problem, like a lot of successful business owners, was that I identified too much with my career. Without it, what would I do, who would I be, how would I pay the bills? In other words, I was not ready to let go, or at least not go down without a fight. This internal stubbornness is a yin-yang trait. You need it to succeed but if you’re out of the flow, it can lead to your downfall. Needless to say, it was only then that I came to realize the reinvention was probably not going to happen at the scale it needed to be.

That’s when I started to take more notice of the Flow that surrounded me. From the abundance of energy and optimism that burst through the watercolor hue of the morning dawn, to the contemplative evaluation of the day’s events reflected in the clouds at the evening dusk, there’s a natural flow, an order or progression, of the way the world around me went about its business. It became very obvious that when I was in the Flow, life worked much more seamlessly, success was obtained and failure was minimized. When I was outside of the Flow, nothing was easy, misery was my companion.

On an afternoon motorcycle ride in late August I found myself skirting the Platte river. Usually I ride on, but that day I decided to stop and take in the views. It had been a record breaking spring snow fall and a wet summer, and the river was flowing. It was at this moment of serenity that I recognized the Flow had something in mind for me. All I had to do was let go.

After nine months of prospecting for new business and achieving a dubious 0 for 50 rejection ratio, I contemplated going back to tending bar. It was not my first stent behind the bar, but there was an ego issue on returning to a profession that I considered “beneath” my skill set and experience level. This is where Flow comes into play. With a background in strategic marketing, I naturally started with a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, threat) analysis. After this bit of nonsense due diligence, it really came down to one simple question. What have you got to lose?

The answer to my question was found in the flow of the river.  It was a metaphor for what I had to let go. My anxieties, my baggage, that I had carried to Colorado with me — pretense, ego, illusion of control, social status, anxiety and fear. All of the aforementioned are not conducive to being in the Flow.

The river washes these away, revealing a new way forward — sans baggage.

I’m happy to say that I have found my place behind the bar. I do not view it as a job but as a craft that brings me pleasure. Hospitality to travelers, recognition for the locals, reviving old skills, all of which bring me peace. I find it ironic in my previous career, money and ego satisfying pleasures did not accomplish what a happenstance afternoon at the river achieved.