"The best moments usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult or worthwhile." --Mihaly CsikszentmihalyiSamuel Taylor Coleridge claimed to wake from an opiate dream with a 200 line poem "Kubla Khan" fully formed in his head. He began scribbling. After capturing just 54 lines, a knock at the door interrupted his 'flow'. The rest of the poem was thus lost to history, as was the identity of the "Person from Porlock" who interrupted him.
Flow. The word itself evokes images of liquid coursing, streaming unfettered. Circulating freely. Gushing, surging, abounding, teeming.
We've all felt it. Immersed, engaged. Time passes without notice. Every cell, every sense, seems focused on the task at hand.
Athletes aim for 'the zone'. Musicians seek to be 'in the groove'.
In his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes it as "what a painter feels when the colors on the canvas begin to set up a magnetic tension with each other, and a new thing, a living form, tases shape in front of the astonished creator."
"We cannot decide--at least so far-- how tall we will grow, how smart we will get. We can choose neither parents nor time of birth, and it is not in your power or mine to decide whether there will be a war or a depression. ... Yet we have all experienced times when , instead of being buffeted by anonymous forces, we do feel in control of our actions, masters of our own fate."
Flow can be cultivated, he opines, and the resulting exhilaration is the key to a well-lived life: "It is by being fully involved with every detail of our lives, whether good or bad, that we find happiness, not by trying to look for it directly."
So today don't just 'go with the flow'', go for the flow. Stretch your mind. Push your body. Try to accomplish something difficult or worthwhile.