I work about 12 hours a day, most days. I write, I program, I build, and I think. I also value my free time highly, and because I work at the edge of my ability to work, I understand my body and brain well enough to know when to stop. When my mind hits the wall of “you’re spent, hang it up,” I oblige. I go take a shower. I go for a walk. I go play video games.

I don’t resist, even if I have things that “have to” be done. I know that when my body and brain are spent, they are spent, and the best thing I can do is respect the boundary I’ve discovered and enjoy the ebb in activity.

If you find yourself resisting your ebb that means you live in your ebb.

See, there’s a difference between flow punctuated by ebb, which is where I live, and ebb punctuated by flow.

If you have ebb punctuated by flow, then you’re familiar with the rush of inspiration hitting, with the excitement of an idea taking over your mind completely. Then all at once, it’s gone. You can’t bring yourself to work on it anymore, so you go back into hibernation. You go back your default state of “ebb”—reading your RSS feed, watching Hulu some more, passing the days feeling hopeful in that distant, “tomorrow will be better” kind of way.

That’s ebb. You resist it because it consumes you instead of refreshing you. The flash of inspiration you sometimes feel is an orgasm of flow. You fantasize about some starry future, and it makes you come.

Orgasms feel great, but they don’t last, and you’re spent once they are over. Some of the robust among us are capable of having multiple orgasms in a row, but they are still just orgasms—unconnected spurts of creativity, followed by a flaccid aftermath.

Most people orgasm periodically and that’s enough to leave them spent enough to tell themselves they are satisfied. That is, until the energy builds again for their next empty and unproductive spurt.

Living in flow isn’t a series of orgasms. It’s an intense relationship filled with love and respect, in which penetration and creation are expressions of a deep and abiding passion.

Find the passion in your life that awakens your desire. Let it kindle the fire you have inside you. Make love passionately with your life and your actions. Orgasms will still happen but they will at once take on a whole new dimension of power and meaning, while also becoming secondary to the ongoing richness of your relationship with life.

Stop jerking off to pornography of success. Find a life you can love.