But I shall let the little I have learnt go forth into the day in order that someone better than I may guess the truth, and in his work may prove and rebuke my error. At this I shall rejoice that I was yet a means whereby this truth has come to light.

Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) leader of the German Renaissance

We cannot declare when the moment shall arise, when we cast off the chains of mundane existence and rise up to that incredible, exalted state.  We can’t fashion the hour that our wings will unfold, and we fly off, and glimpse a brief fragment of creative bliss.  We can’t, we just can’t.

But we can most certainly name it.

“Everything flows and nothing stays,” said Heraclitus, the fifth-century Greek philospher, speaking of how time constantly moves us forward, and change is life’s only constant.  But these days there is another meaning given to this word.  And it is by this term that we will begin to take aim.

Flow.

Why call it this?  Well, we need to call it something.  And naming that moment when we become one with the practice of our art is sort of like trying to name a vaccuum.  In that instant, we simply are not there.  So in naming it, we instead need to look at the process that brings us to that point.

Flow.  It works as good as anything else.

I am not alone in this choice of a name.  A number of sociologists, medical doctors, and psychologists are now studying the process by which an individual rises above themselves.  Firsthand accounts of such experiences—from sports figures, martial arts experts, artists, and many others—say the same:  It is marked by intense focus, heightened involvement in the action at hand, and two other elements.

First, the experience comes when the practice of this craft or art is so regular that it is natural.  It is a disciplined component of every day.

The second factor is derived from the first.  Because it is natural, we are able to gradually reduce our iron-clad grip upon the work, and through the very intensity of the creative act, we…

Flow.

In his book The Life We Are Given, George Leonard uses the term ‘focused surrender’ to describe the paradox of flow.  Again, the term works as well as any.  The aim is to both try and not try.  To focus intently and at the same time surrender the will.

Remember what I said earlier.  The aim is not discipline.  The aim is balance.  The only reason discipline is mentioned so often is because for many creative types, this is the muscle that most needs work.

In achieving a personal sense of balance between the passion and the discipline, the artist can begin to let go.

And flow.

Flow where, you ask?  Well now.  That is for you to answer.  Not me.

DO THIS NOW:

  • There is now a reason for why balance is important, one that goes beyond the external success of your creative efforts.  One that fashions a portal.  And through this you can enter into that moment of true creative freedom.  Sometimes.  Not often enough, of course.  But still.
  • On your idea board, place a new card or slip of paper.  On it write the one word:

BALANCE

  • Sometimes taking aim is, in itself, a magnificent achievement.

 

 

Davis Bunn’s next novel MIRAMAR BAY comes out March 28th 2017. Don’t forget to order your copy today!

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