It was promised to be a beautiful summer day and I was excited about taking a hike in the early afternoon. While making my morning cup of coffee I glanced out the kitchen window to find hummingbirds dodging in and out of the Crocosmia, the beautiful Lucifer flame flowers with sword-like foliage. Their dance was most mesmerizing, and I their captive audience.
I grabbed my easel and paints and quietly slid open the french door, surprisingly without alerting them, although just a few feet away. I synced my outdoor speaker and selected a splendid compliment to painting, an audio reading recorded to music; one of my favorites, Longfellow Reads Longfellow. My sweet golden retriever, Owen laid sprawled out on the deck next to me. it was 8am. My morning was perfect.
I'm not sure what happened between 8am and 4pm, but my dream state was awakened by Owen dragging his food bowl on to the deck. When I looked around, the garden was showered with paintings of hummingbirds and flowers and I was still in my pajamas.
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, pioneer of the theory of flow calls this phenomenon a state of timelessness. He goes on to explain that when we are involved in an act that comes to us with little effort or caution to time, and immense enjoyment (no sex doesn't count! - oops, did I say that?) you are in an intrinsic state of mind or "zone". This happens because the challenge of what we are doing is in balance with our skill.
That summer day intrigued me to learn more about flow theory. I now pay close attention to what I am doing when this phenomenon happens and I have begun to shape my life around the skills utilized while there. If these are my innate gifts, it stands to reason that to exercise or build my life and work around these gifts will create more fulfillment and minimize frustration by trying to pursue things that are less natural to me.
It's really quite cool, when you stop to think about it!
Csíkszentmihályi, M. (2008). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.