This story is my gift to you based on what I have discovered about my relationship with Flo (short for flow not Florence).

I met Flo when I was very young. She was my childhood sweetheart. At first we felt like we were doing something wrong when we played together as most of the other kids played by themselves or with other kids of the same gender and because of this most of our time together took place in the context of hiding from the rest of the world.

During these times the concepts of judgement, fear, popularity and normality did not enter our world. We were crazy about each other. We would be in my room with the door closed, wandering around the family vineyard with no destination in mind, or under the dinner table sheltered from the storm of adult conversation above.

What I had no doubt about was that Flo made my mind feel clear, my heart thump and gave my whole body tingles. I felt most alive when we were playing together and never angry or sad. We would write rhyming tales of disgust and horror which offended most adults.

Their way of coping with us was to prevent us from playing together. There were a few teachers who enjoyed these playful tales in the spirit they were intended and even encouraged us to play together more often.

I Loved Flo With Absolute Affection

Between the ages of 9 and 12 my life got very complicated very quickly. I learned of something called cancer and that it was going to take my mother away in 3 months time and my father's career in oil fell apart.

These were two powerful forces that caused our family to break down. That was when I met Fear, then Rage and Flo left. It has taken me a long time since Flo left to realise that when Fear and Rage wants to have a fight with me Flo won't play with me. Fear and Rage don't want me to play with Flo. They want me all to themselves.

What still surprises me is how much Fear, Rage and I managed to achieve together. We travelled the world playing Rugby and were even asked to Captain the Victorian State team together.

Whilst I felt proud of these achievements, I didn't enjoy celebrating them with Fear or Rage. When Fear and Rage wanted to party it always felt like no amount of pleasure seeking behaviour was enough. That was very different to celebrating with Flo.

On the rare occasion Flo would turn up to play a game of Rugby with me we played with everyone. We encouraged the team and helped them get over the try line often. We laughed in the face of fear and danced around our opposition, chip kicking, spinning and darting over the try line together. Then after the game we celebrated with everyone else who played the game.

Even if we lost the game Flo and I would celebrate how well we had played the game. My Rugby career ended when Fear and Rage overpowered Flo and sent her away. After this happened Flo stayed away for most of a decade.

In Flo's absence and under the influence of Fear and Rage I became more fearful and angry and less trusting and joyful. Eventually I became aware that Fear and Rage were controlling me and that together they would always want more of me. I went searching for Flo again.

I used my gifts of curiosity and self-expression to send out missing person notices in the form of poems and stories. At first they were short and sharp and then, as I felt her presence coming back, they became longer, simpler and more sincere. I enjoyed the simple act of writing them. I found so much joy in the process that over time I forgot Flo was missing. That was when Flo came back. 

We are both adults now and Flo has grown into a beautiful, loving and passionate woman. Recently when I was crying she embraced me in her gentle loving arms and asked me what was wrong,

"Please don't go Flo".

Flo calmly and confidently said to me,

"If you can learn to stand up to Fear and to calm Rage you will never have to worry about me leaving".

Flo has helped me find the joy in curiosity and self expression again. Sometimes we write poetry together. At other times we tell stories. We always enjoy sharing time with the people we love.

10 Games To Help You Find Your Creative Flow

Staying Curious

  • Be led by a child. Walk at their pace. Ask them what they see and look at the world as they see it.
  • Personify an animal or inanimate object for 20 minutes. Imagine you are a goldfish being taken home from a pet store or a chair being sat on by a large human. What do you see, feel, hear, smell and taste?
  • Finding new experiences to do everyday works but is exhausting and expensive. Do the same things you always do in different ways. Swap your short skateboard for a friends long board for a week. Eat vegan. Change the milk in your morning coffee. Handwrite your notes rather than typing them or vice versa. Only send rhyming text messages between the hours of 9-10am

Self Expression

  • Make an inventory of all the activities you enjoyed before the age of 10 years old. Do them again as an adult.
  • Write down a list of 12 role models and celebrities you aspire to and write down at least one question you would like to ask them. Questions about the way they live their life or choices they made that you admire and respect will teach you about your self.

Calming Rage

  • Separate the concepts; reaction and response in your brain. When you feel like reacting to something that angers or frustrates you, take a breath and then choose your response.
  • Strip sounds of their meaning. When you hear an annoying sound like a dripping tap or a car alarm, imagine it is music and find the rhythm or melody in it.

Disarm Your Fear

  • Stop comparing the inner thoughts, criticisms, embarrassments and struggles behind the scenes of your work with what other people put on stage for everyone to see.
  • Do one creative project every week that is deliberately bad. Cook a combination of ingredients that couldn’t possibly taste good. Sculpt something ugly out of clay. Create a collage of chaos. Get it out of your system!
  • Deliberately make mistakes and find out how insignificant they are. Forget to take a pen into a meeting. Don’t set forks for a dinner party. Play rap music for your grandparents and classical music for your fashion conscious friends.
Originally posted on: 24 March 2016
Last updated on: 18 February 2024
Matt Jackson

Matt Jackson

Founder of Affectors, i4 Practitioner, Creative Facilitator, Poet, Author, Speaker & Designer.

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