Monday, August 12, 2013

Flow, baby (shower the people)

The summer in Los Angeles is one that John Fante would dream of (sans the street cars) -- long, light days and clement. The days of hairdryer heat are yet to come, so we waken to pleasantly grey skies and the gentle singing of birds. Soon their songs will become fraught as they rush to siesta in the sizzling afternoons. A few ideas have become crystallized:
Love is all.
Be Patient.
If I had a chalkboard above my bed I'd etch it in pink to wake up to every morning.

A friend last night -- we were catching up in the kitchen in the midst of a barbecue, scraping bits off plates and stacking glasses -- told me that she can't bear to reach out to someone and not hear back, that the vulnerability of the waiting time is too much for her, that she doesn't trust it will happen. And in that moment, those few minutes, she is completely alone and small. I suffer similarly. Which of course people find difficult to understand. Outwardly I appear confident and effusive and jolly. Vulnerable is a very difficult place to be. However, if I learned anything over these last two years, it is that when you are in the vulnerable place, that is when your friends show themselves. It is the very state of being vulnerable that allows people to reach out to you with outstretched hands and bits of cheese.  It is always at my lowest that my friends have popped up, sometimes with matzo ball soup, sometimes in heels tottering along the swale on the hillside suggesting cups of tea, sometimes wanting to write with me, sometimes with an emoticon-dotted text for instant cheer. Sometimes, even, with marmalade.

But -- and stay with me here -- it is at those moments when there is nothing to hold on to, no life vest, just you and the universe, that you have to trust that there is something bigger at play, and that you are not alone.

I find myself inexplicably attracted to atheistic men. I have no idea why. What can I say? I enjoy the challenge? But this is where they and I disagree. I would say that it is in these moments, the ones where you're filled with self-doubt and terror, that you need to allow God (or whatever it is you call it) in. Not God of any gender (a ridiculous concept) or Benevolent Despot or a Great Judge in The Skies, but God-as-Love.

Part 2: You see, this is where things just get weird. I just returned from my Monday morning yoga class and the theme was flow, trust, letting go of fear. An example was given: a man in my class is a professional skateboarder. "So, Joe" says Tej-the-wondrous, "tell everyone what happens when you skate when you're scared." "I fall" says Joe. "And thus," says Tej (although the word thus may be my conceit) "so it is in life. If you flow through life and trust that God is with you, you won't freak out." (Of course, in the clearing of my mind in meditation I have completely forgotten her exact words but I do remember thinking, damn, that's exactly what I was writing about this morning...)

From Wikipedia:
Flow is 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 essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does. Proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, this positive psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields.
Part of the notion of flow is to clear your mind of thought and to trust in muscle memory. I think way too much. When I ride, somehow, the thought gets pushed out of my head and I trust that somehow between me and the horse and the magic juju (God/Love/Faith/Trust), great things will happen. Invariably they do.

magic Freddie juju

magic rays of light Freddie

Yesterday, I came across this:

Shower the people and all that.

Have a wonderful week in this the soft fruit season.


MsW xxx


Arch Rockefeller said...

What a lovely post.

It certainly is a wonderful thing when one can stop thinking too much and simply be in the Flow. As a musician I cherish those moments when it all goes right.

When all the players on the stand are able to have a conversation where everything meshes.

When each knows that they will have something to say in their solo and that the other players will support them so generously it will feel like floating on a cloud.

When one is able to "Act effortlessly and spontaneously for the benefit of all", to use a line from a meditation which I like.

Not something that can be achieved at will, but certainly more likely to happen in the summer when one's muscles are relaxed!

In my limited experience with Flow, one of the most useful aspects is that it offers one a glimpse into the way every area of life might be.

By the way, another James Taylor song which muses on a topic similar to that of today's blog is "Secret O' Life" - do you like that one?

Miss Whistle said...

Dear Arch Rockefeller:
So sweet and dear of you to post such a lovely, thoughtful comment. I adore what you say: "Act effortlessly and spontaneously for the benefit of all." It's perfect. I don't know "Secret O'Life" but I shall check it out immediately.
I'm all for summer and relaxed muscles.
Be well.
Miss W