I will be blogging every day for the next foreseeable future. I’m not sure what about. The goal is for me to write, write, write. I have always been inspired by Thoreau’s journaling practices but I get bored journaling because I like to talk about my ideas. So, I realized that blogging as a journal is going to be a two birds, one stone kind of thing. My long term goal is to be a writer of books–actual, factual paper books–that people actually read. It’s really hard to pull a book out of thin air, trust me, I’ve tried. So I’m hoping that by journal-blogging I’m going to be able to build enough material about who knows what to write a book! So here we go, day one. If you enjoy any of my blogs, please, please, please consider subscribing via email on the right –>
Recently I have been reading fantasy books by a man named Jeff Wheeler. I discovered him on the kindle store recommended section and I absolutely fell in love with his writing. In the last two weeks I have read nine of his books and I’m still going strong. In one of his worlds there is a form of magic. In this world certain people are “fountain blessed,” which means that they have special powers like foresight or shapeshifting. These powers are not always useable and have to be charged up, essentially. In one of the books, Wheeler writes “To know your power, you must know your passion. Is there something you have always been fond of? Some work that isn’t a chore or a trouble?” This is something that I have thought about a lot, but in terms of what is called “flow state.”
Flow state is described by Wikipedia as “the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.” In the book, the main character’s source of energy is strategizing. When he is young, he builds elaborate domino patterns and towers to knock down. As he grows from a boy to a man, his activities change. When he is older he figures out how to win battles or outsmart people. We all have things that we lose track of time doing, things that light us up. For me, these things are writing, playing music (specifically writing songs), playing magic, hiking, running (if I’m in shape, otherwise it’s the worst), and long + interesting conversations. However, I would not call binging 5 hours of Brooklyn Nine-Nine flow state even though I lose track of time doing it. To be in flow state one must be challenged and enjoying that challenge.
In the book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F#ck, author Mark Manson stresses the importance of struggling towards something. He says that we all have pain in our life, it’s inevitable. The point, therefore, is not to escape pain or struggle but to feel those things for a purpose. Playing guitar is painful, it hurts your fingers. Running is painful, it is taxing and difficult. Magic is an extremely challenging game and requires struggling and thinking deeply. Interesting conversations require being open and listening. Are you seeing a pattern? Things that inspire flow state in us are not easy. To repeat for emphasis: True flow state can only be achieved when one is challenged by the activity but enjoys the challenge. In my mind, the ideal life would be when one is constantly challenged and solving fun problems and enjoying every minute of it (spoiler alert: I’m pretty sure that this is mostly impossible. Nevertheless, something to strive for).
So, what’s the point of me talking about flow states? Basically, our flow states fill us up with power, like in the book. I use the word power intentionally instead of something like energy. Energy comes from things like sleeping, eating well, exercise, etc. Power is something that imbues us with the ability to manifest our talents and skills in the world. It is what lets us work long hours at something challenging. By doing what we’re passionate about, we gain the ability to do the hard work to achieve our goals and to live for a purpose. Without making time or without access to our passions, we become dejected, bored, and depressed. I have been there. Often I forget about the activities that fill me up and don’t do them. These times in my life are always my lowest points. When I’m these periods I have an even harder time remembering to do what I love so I realized that I have to do what I love and what fills me up every day. I have to make time, intentionally, for these things or else I won’t do them.
Once we start doing what fills us up consistently then we gain the ability to manifest our dreams in the world. This is when the game changes from filling one’s self up to emptying one’s self out. Tomorrow I will write about how we can use our power to actually create in the world. I will also differentiate between doing something because we love it and doing something because that something is who we are and it is how we live.
Looking forward to tomorrow!
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PPS. I’m curious about what some of your passions are. What puts you in flow state? Let me know below!