With work, we seek shortcuts.
With art, we go deeper.
When I was about fourteen years of age, I made gaming videos for Youtube.
I had to buy a cube-shaped device that recorded my TV screen so that I could record my gameplay. It wasn’t cheap, believe me.
Over time, I learnt how to edit the videos, too. Everything I needed, I found on Youtube and within myself — free education and a desire to learn.
As I watched tutorials, practised the craft and repeated the cycle, I became aware of something.
I was getting lost in my time; hours would pass without me noticing.
I’d scramble to squeeze in as much as I could before bed and yell “just a minute” each time my mum would call me down for dinner, just to scoff down the meal and run back upstairs.
With the knowledge I have today, I think this is what psychologists would call ‘flow’, a temporally warped mental state that includes complete immersion in a rewarding, enjoyable experience.
This state of ‘flow’ fascinates me.
What exactly is it? How do we get it? Can we practice it? Seek it? Nurture it?
Most importantly, is ‘flow’ a natural indicator of what we should be pursuing in life?
The last few years, I couldn’t help but think it meant something.
I wasn’t sure exactly how it mattered or what should be done about it, but I was conscious that at the very least, it had to be a lesson of life that needed to be understood.
I know I talk a lot about finding direction in life, an amount most people would probably consider excessive.
But, if it took me 25 years to gain an ounce of clarity on it, perhaps the exercise shouldn’t be underestimated.
If, as you’re reading this, you too find yourself thinking about a state of ‘flow’ you once experienced, perhaps it’s a question you’ve left unanswered:
Are you doing the ‘work’ you’re meant to be doing?
Do What Matters
To make a big problem smaller, here are a few starter questions to get you thinking:
What feels like ‘work’ to others but feels like ‘play’ to you?
What gets you in a state of ‘flow’? *Distinguish from ‘hyperfocus’ — a state of ‘capture’ that doesn’t necessarily help you achieve something — think gambling or video games.*
Finally, one thought that I’ve been pondering for months (source — unknown):
With work, you find shortcuts. With art, you go deeper.
Some doctors, for example, see their roles simply as ‘work’, finding shortcuts to help them become more efficient at their jobs.
Others might view medicine as an art, endlessly immersing themselves into their practice.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend my life seeking shortcuts.
I want to find what feels like art to me, so that I can get lost.
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