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Elan Vitae


  • Shena Driscoll Salvato


I often wonder how our individual ways of being, our unique personal operating systems, so to say, came to be. So much of how we operate on a daily basis drives what we do, and perhaps, more importantly, what we don’t do. Is how we move through our minutes, hours, and days, at this stage of our lives, at this very moment in time, more heavily influenced by nature? By nurture? By personality? By outer influence? By inner drive? By stillness?

Regardless of the style of our modus operandi, the outer world can seem to move perpetually along like the inner workings of a Swiss Cuckoo Clock powered by the steady swing of its weighty pendulum, or like the smooth hum a chain around a bicycle’s chainring, powered by our own legs as we pedal along our level, cindered path. Some might find comfort in that predicability, a sense of safety in routine. Others might, unknowingly, silently, rebel against it: procrastinating, denying ourselves the joy or benefit of things that enrich and satisfy us. Becoming ensnarled in their monotonous, predicable motion with their tick-tock, tick-tock and click, click, click, distracting us from what our inner being might otherwise choose for us if it weren’t for these trappings of mechanization, we might find ourselves on a subconscious path to overwhelm.

Have we put so much faith in the external systems we relinquished control to in our younger years that we’ve forgotten how to trust ourselves? It’s understandable to see how this might have happened; the predictability supports the ultimate goals, the accuracy of time, the arrival at the final destination. What, though, about the blissful possibility of deviation from the rigidity of these systems? Where might we end up if we hop off, stop listening, or if the gears simply…stop?

There are times when the unexpected, the unanticipated, changes our path for us. Whether it happens to us directly or we see others’ life experiences upended in a distant region of the world, somewhere on Earth, at any given second, someone’s once expected path has been altered, sometimes subtly, other times radically. It can be jarring to both the receiver and the observer, but somehow, some way, human nature finds a way to continue on, adjusting and recalibrating to the abrupt and jolting changes. When we’re not at the whim of this type of change, are we truly embracing our power to choose our path?

You might be recognizing someone you know in these words — someone who has ideas and potential oozing from them, just waiting to be released as they remain trapped inside, suppressed by the should’s and supposed to’s. You might recognize one whose potential and ideas are sensed by others, yet remain invisible to the one who contains them, not yet knowing they’re there. Might that someone be you?

Harnessing the power to FLIT: Follow Leads Intuitively Trusting, can stop the gears and allow us to experience trust and freedom, just as the butterflies and dragonflies do above a sun-drenched field of wildflowers in the morning dew. While they appear to be flying aimlessly about, they are following an innate purpose for self-nourishment and survival. How can we be more like those dragonflies and butterflies, opening ourselves to the possibility of where we can next be drawn?

So what does it mean to FLIT? Let’s begin with what it doesn’t mean: it doesn’t mean always holding ourselves bound to schedules, routines, or rigidity. While there might be comfort in the loop of the familiar and we still have responsibilities to uphold, how many of us, from infancy, were indoctrinated into the world of fixating on what’s next without allowing new possibilities to present themselves to us, allowing ourselves to follow what we feel but don’t yet see?

How did I come to FLIT? Quite likely it was my unconventional childhood with creative parents that set me on this path, as my father made the invaluable trade for half his meager teaching salary in 1979 for a travel sabbatical. As a young family of four, we lived in a 1960s-era camper and 1976 Ford Econoline custom airbrushed van for a year, exploring, relishing, frugally thriving all across the United States and into Mexico. I had the great fortune, then, of recognizing the value in what my parents modeled — intuitively trusting where to go and what to do, and following those leads. Being free of the rigidity of outwardly dictated schedules and routines planted within me an innate longing for freedom, a complete disassociation with the concept of “boredom” (a word that today I can only write in quotes and only say by prefacing it as one of the most obscene words in our language). To FLIT is the antithesis of being “bored”.

The most authentic way for me explain FLIT is to describe what I experience. FLIT is something I feel, centered in my heart chakra, that powers me to move and do, just as my feet on the pedals or the pendulum on that Cuckoo Clock. FLIT is a feeling of openness in my heart, a knowing of trust, of possibility.

Just as the dragonflies and butterflies, we can FLIT in unlimited directions, at varying speeds and heights. To FLIT is to sense, to feel our way to what we could do next or where we could go. We can FLIT for five or ten minutes during the course of a day, resulting in startling realizations and unexpected discoveries. Who can afford not to find the time to FLIT? The key to FLIT is to trust ourselves and allow it. Now, when I FLIT, likely looking to others like those dragonflies and butterflies over that field of wildflowers, I am drawn to the next thing that leads to the next thing that takes me to the thing I’ve always been ready for but didn’t know to look for. This is how ideas, by the dozens, are generated within me, how I stay open to possibility, how I thrive in the exhilaration of creation.

What if we were to more consciously choose our own path in a span of minutes, in even the most mundane of ways? How could this empower us to more actively write our own life story? How can we be more in harmony and flow with the universe while, at the same time, shedding our expectations and taking control of our own fortunes? We can do this by embracing the opportunity to FLIT: Follow Leads Intuitively Trusting.

Photo credit: Zdenek Machecek via Unsplash


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