You can dam the river

Go with the flow, but don't forget that you control how you steer the boat.

Stoic designers practice differentiating what we can and can't control, while not attaching our sense of self-worth or happiness to the latter. We use euphemisms like roll with the punches, or go with the flow, to give this idea some flare, but I think these imply something about being passive, about being at the mercy of inertia, or swept-up in the momentum, by the current - and I think it's worth challenging these.

Somewhere, there's an inspirational poster that reminds you that life is like a river: it's silly to get mad at the river for flowing; you go with the flow, but don't forget that how you steer the boat is still under your control.

But you can dam the river. With enough will and resources, you can stop the river all together. We think maybe when we're talking about this of world wonders like the Hoover dam; sure - we might shape nature as long as we have the wealth and ingenuity of small governments. But you can dam a river with a bundle of sticks. You don't have to be any more industrial than a beaver to turn a river into a lake.

Going with the flow is a choice. It is an active demonstration of restraint. There's strength in it.

Craft virtuously,
Michael Schofield