At this moment, in this place, the shifting action potential in my neurons cascade into certain arrangements, patterns, thoughts; they flow down my spine, branch into my arms, my fingers, until muscles twitch and thought is translated into motion; mechanical levers are pressed; electrons are rearranged; marks are made on paper.
At another time, in another place, light strikes the marks, reflects into a pair of high-precision optical instruments sculpted by nature after billions of years of random mutations; upside-down images are formed against two screens made up of millions of light-sensitive cells, which translate light into electrical pulses that go up the optic nerves, cross the chiasm, down the optic tracts, and into the visual cortex, where the pulses are reassembled into letters, punctuation marks, words, sentences, vehicles, tenors, thoughts.
The entire system seems fragile, preposterous, science fictional.
― Ken Liu, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories
You’ve heard poets talk about poems flowing out of their bodies; painters, they get on a roll. You all have seen the musician, when they are in that state, the guitar, the piano, whatever instrument just becomes part of their body, their ego is completely gone and it is just their connection to the art, their connection to the emotions they are trying to share with the audience- that is pure flow.
All you have to do is wait. Sit tight and wait for the right moment. Not try to change anything by force, just watch the drift of things. Make an effort to cast a fair eye on everything. If you do that, you just naturally know what to do. But everyone’s always too busy. They’re too talented, their schedules are too full. They’re too interested in themselves to think about what’s fair.
The flow. Yeah. Knowing you could step on the court and make it happen. You practiced, sure. But then, when you walked out there, you could just go. You could flow, that was it: you created and you didn’t totally know how. You just knew you could, so you did. It wasn’t thinking and it wasn’t imitating somebody else’s moves, though you always looked carefully when you watched good players play. But when you played… it was something you couldn’t explain. Neal used to know. It didn’t come from thinking about it.
Most important, in flow, the relationship between what a person had to do and what he could do was perfect. The challenge wasn’t too easy. Nor was it too difficult. It was a notch or two beyond his current abilities, which stretched the body and mind in a way that made the effort itself the most delicious reward. That balance produced a degree of focus and satisfaction that easily surpassed other, more quotidian, experiences. In flow, people lived so deeply in the moment, and felt so utterly in control, that their sense of time, place, and even self melted away. They were autonomous, of course. But more than that, they were engaged.
― Daniel Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
So much in writing depends on the superficiality of one’s days. One may be preoccupied with shopping and income tax returns and chance conversations, but the stream of the unconscious continues to flow undisturbed, solving problems, planning ahead: one sits down sterile and dispirited at the desk, and suddenly the words come as though from the air: the situations that seemed blocked in a hopeless impasse move forward: the work has been done while one slept or shopped or talked with friends.
I believe that with all things in life, there is a constant need to let go of the idea of “trying hard”, there’s a heaviness in trying hard to get something, have something or be something. As long as people comply with the idea of “trying hard” they will constantly remain in a place of heaviness. The opposite of this is the state of allowing, of setting out the intentions of what you wish, putting in the required action and not self-sabotaging yourself by “trying hard” or expecting results to unfold in a particular way. Anything that’s worth something to you in life such as love, abundance, freedom, peace is in a continuous state of flow. A state of lightness is the only way to allow yourself to go with the flow of things. Heaviness only makes you become a rocky solid object at the bottom of the stream. You can see the flow of things in the life of others who embody the lightness, but you yourself become unmovable in your state of heaviness, as if blocking the flow from reaching you. Will you let yourself move with the flow of abundance or sink at the bottom with the heaviness of your scarcity mindset?
―Virgil Kalyana Mittata Iordache
We use our minds not to discover facts but to hide them. One of things the screen hides most effectively is the body, our own body, by which I mean, the ins and outs of it, its interiors. Like a veil thrown over the skin to secure its modesty, the screen partially removes from the mind the inner states of the body, those that constitute the flow of life as it wanders in the journey of each day.
―António Damásio, The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness