“Time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.” ~ William Faulkner
Recognizing and Releasing the Dam
I worked at a locally owned community grocer and bakery for a little under half a year once. It was a great little business, where the owner lived right around the corner and there were always familiar faces.
I loved the idea of working with community and food – natural, local, quality food, where I met farmers and producers who passed through daily. The business even had their own kitchen and bakery across the street that brought fresh breads and pastries of all sorts every morning. It’s a great place.
Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, after a week and half it felt like I was dying in there. The problem was that I’m a thinker and as often as possible try to be a creator. This is hard in regular work environments, where the mind isn’t allowed to think abstractly or sequentially.
After initial learning, some jobs turn into keeping all the nuts and bolts tightened. Blah. Feeling mentally restrained, my mind battled to wander into creative flow as duty called it away and the hands on the clock went by slower and slower.
Can you relate? Where every day your work feels like just another push until the clock strikes freedom? If you do, it’s time to abandon ship.
Watching time pass, ‘clicked off by little wheels,’ really feels deadening. To bring it to life, as Faulkner notes, we have do what erases measured time from our awareness.
Becoming a Flow-State All-Star
All Stars are the people who do what they love and love what they do. They enter a state of creative flow, where time passes naturally like a rushing stream. While it comes easy for some people, it takes diligent practice like everything else for most of us, and even the experienced need to keep on top of their game.
I like to think I’m almost an All-Star now, but it took years to realize the potential. For instance, in youth I was too concerned with having fun, socializing and messing around to stick my head into a book for very long. Reading was something demanded by the powers that be, and anything that fell under that category sat prominently on my ‘to-not-do’ list.
Over the years I dropped the ego and came to terms with a slightly receding hairline and more fragile body. Most importantly, I embraced the curiosity for life, the world around me and what I was doing in it – sustainable lifelong interests that lead to significant change.
Mental stimulation and creativity became abundantly exciting. While a full-time snowboarder, part-time student in Colorado, missing out on a day in the mountains eventually didn’t bother me because I was captivated and mentally engaged with or without physical activity. Time came alive as my mind engaged with its new hobby: learning and experimenting with life.
Now, time is quite alive and quite active. There are never enough hours in the day and I hardly notice them pass. Sometimes I’ll start writing and realize 4 or 5 hours passed and my stomach is grumbling for a snack before checking the clock.
Thoughts are engaging friends when nobodies around, and will engage them when they are. Nourish them and they nourish you.
Flow-State Crib Sheet
Try these tips to hone your interest areas and engage in a life alive.
- Mull. Find yourself some free time to be alone in a comfortable place where you can think. Grab a piece of paper, journal or pen and mull over your life. Think about what captivates and engages you, what types of books you read, what websites you view, what you would like to improve in your life, your goals, something you’d like to learn – write it all down.
- Experiment. Take the list of loves you just gathered and think about them. Keep them in mind and see if find yourself inspired to give one a shot within the next few days you. Pick up that book, start writing, start learning, build something, learn an instrument – whatever you choose.
- Climb. While letting it be natural is best, even with your list on the brain and intentions set a busy life derails picking up new habits easily. Find the time, pick something on the list and start climbing – self-motivating through the initial discomfort until you reach higher ground and begin feeling more like you’re barreling down hill and can’t stop, or want to.
- Don’t expect. If you clutter your mind with expectations of engaging flow and creating with phenomenal results, you’re making it quarrelsome to tap into your potential. It’s one of those nonsensical things, where you have to almost pretend as though your consciousness isn’t around, but know what’s going on. Like it’s hiding behind a bush waiting and watching for the subconscious flow-state to do its thing. Also, while achieving goals benefits from visualization and ambition, it can also be deterred from lofty expectation. Be easy on yourself.
- Dawdle. This aligns with expectations. Often when I write, I’ll sit at the computer and dawdle around email, organize things and view websites until all of a sudden inspiration strikes or focus finds me and a flow-state takes over for who knows how long. Allow yourself time to fidget around and get comfortable. Just be persistent and generous with your effort to allow your mind to develop the practice.
- Repeat. Once you experience a flow-state of engaged creation, celebrate. After that, take note of how it felt and if you’d like to continue practicing. The more you stick with something, the more your mind finds patterns and serendipitous coincidences in all corners of life. This is truly uplifting and mind opening. You’ll meet new people, discover new things and very likely develop a passion to the point you could turn it into a vocation. That’s when you become a Flow-Sate All-Star.
Medhi Rene helps people interested in and seeking to liberate from convention and live with extraordinary intention by focusing a variety of thoughtful topics and self-education. I hope to build a community around these principles at Mind the Good Life (http://mindthegoodlife.com). Because the Good Life is a matter of the Mind.