Sunday, August 16, 2015

Quickies: “Finished” Versus “Flow”

     Mihaly Csikcsentmihalyi’s book Flow is one of the quietly critical, even seminal, works of our time. However, even those who have enjoyed it most and lauded it most vigorously can miss the greater part of its significance.

     Flow is inherently inimical to the sense of being “finished.” Here’s an example of what “finished” can do to you:

     So today I woke up after sleeping over 12 hours straight, and I’m still somewhat sluggish.

     Do you know when you finish a book and your body goes “I’m done” and for a few days falls into something akin to flu only it’s not, and you sleep a lot and end up watching the A & E edition of Pride and Prejudice and IF YOU’RE LUCKY don’t read all Disney comics for 2 months?

     Okay, maybe that’s just me.

     Yeah, there are milestones I just passed, though none of them is finishing a book (not just now, at least.)

     We finished work on the house, though we still need to get a realtor. For those on FB who’ve seen pictures, yeah, it’s huge and (now) gorgeous. This has been our strategy with houses, and we doubled our money on the two houses we lived in before, so we sank it all into it. So, we have tons of money, but until it sells we’re broke. Meh.

     At any rate we finished cleaning it. And that was a huge project now done. I felt somewhat fluey-but given the amount of work we put into it, well…

     But then yesterday we went up for Robert’s med school matriculation and I came home so tired, I couldn’t even READ and slept for 12 hours.

     I think my back-brain has interpreted the ceremony was “we’re done raising him.” While foolish brain is wrong, of course, you’re never done worrying for/helping your kids if my parents are an indication, it’s also right in a substantial way, because Robert is living elsewhere and is now treading his own path, one of which I know very little, and where I have to “let go” to a large extent.

     I think my brain interpreted that as “we’re done with the heavy lifting now. Rest.”

     I feel for you, Sarah; truly I do. But that’s what comes of being “finished.” There are good reasons the word has more than one meaning.

     When I retired from my engineering career, I had the same sense of let-down...the same apparent need to do nothing but eat, sit, and sleep. The effects on my waistline were the least of the negative consequences.

     A flow state must be maintained, and there’s only one way to do it:

     Keep going.
     Stay in the saddle.
     Start a new project .
     Keep yourself engaged.
     The alternative is being “finished.”
     Possibly in more senses than two.

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