Been re-reading Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihalyi Csikzentmihalyi. Some “new” thoughts this time around.
“Having achieved flow in one activity does not necessarily guarantee that it will be carried over to the rest of life.”
As you improve at an activity, it brings you more pleasure, you become more and more capable of finding states of flow within it, you pursue it at the expense of all other potential opportunities for flow, until one day… it becomes your religion. You become the Bobby Fischer, “inept except when his mind was on chess”, or the guy who enjoys twirling pencils so much that he wins a world record… and then what? You focused so much on one task, that now you have only that one activity for freedom, flow, meaning!
I don’t want to be stuck with one option for meaning, for flow! I don’t know why; maybe there is no why. Maybe it’s innate, or maybe it’s learned. All I know is that it’s not in line with me, with my personality, with my values. For a long time I thought of myself as dancer, and then as traceur, and then as capoeirista. And I was never fulfilled anywhere for very long. Ido’s ideas about being the generalist gave me a way out of that.
“As long as enjoyment follows piecemeal from activities not linked to one another in a meaningful way, one is still vulnerable to the vagaries of chaos.”
In the universe of movement, the philosophy of movement IS the link between these activities. Not a link between them actually, but more a thread running through them.
The beauty of this philosophy is in looking past the piecemeal approach, to really see the big picture. I guess, in the end, the big picture was nothing more than a strand, a thread woven through…
A community is good “if it offers people a chance to enjoy as many aspects of their lives as possible, while allowing them to develop their potential in the pursuit of ever greater challenges”
This is exactly how I imagine I want to contribute to a better community: by providing opportunities to grow and develop complexity, something that all people should have access to. Mihalyi believes that the process of self-development is the forward-moving oscillation between differentiation and integration, ultimately resulting in ever-greater complexity of self.
What is complexity of self? That’s a topic for another day, but for now: having absorbed the activity you have engaged in, through fully immersing yourself within it. Sure, this is a slightly less-than-satisfying answer, but psychology doesn’t specialize in providing fully fleshed out answers.
This isn’t some vague and cookie-cutter notion about making the world a “better place”. This is about making the world a “bigger” place, making the universe evolve. Pushing things forward, making a brave “new” world. Let’s keep evolving, let’s keep the dice rolling, the picture changing. There’s no truth until we arrive at it, and we won’t arrive at it unless we keep the water boiling.