Friday, November 5, 2010

What does it mean to "Go In"?

I am guilty of disappearing for days at a time. There are times when I'm completely overwhelmed with sadness (usually over a love lost). But largely, my "getting ghost" has to do with a passion for what I'm doing that is so great, I do not want to stop... for anything. This has been the source of many of those failed relationships - giving myself over more readily to the ecstasy I feel when pursuing something new or challenging than to the expectations or responsibilities of a relationship.

It wasn't until reading excerpts of Daniel Pink's DRIVE, and watching Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's talk on TED about "flow", that I got insight into my disappearing acts. Csikszentmihalyi is a pioneer in our understanding of happiness, creativity, human fulfillment, and "flow". In order to explain what is happening to us when we are completely engaged in creating something new, he starts by sharing about the nervous system.

He explains that the nervous system cannot process more than 110 bits of information per second; and to simply hear someone speak and understand the message it takes about 60 bits, or more than half of our capacity. Which, he expounds, is why we cannot hear and understand two people talking to us at the same time. When immersed in the process of creating, he says, we do not have enough attention left to monitor how our body feels, problems at home, cannot feel hunger or exhaustion.
"Identity disappears from consciousness; existence is temporarily suspended."

This is important for those of you who cannot understand how your children can sit for hours at a time on a video game, or why your husband is locked in his studio, or why your girlfriend would rather paint all weekend than take a road trip. You, too, should find yourself in this state of euphoric "flow", at least every once in a while. Remember: The closest we can get to our divinity is to be a creator.