As an artist, I'm used to working inside, alone, in my studio. Sometimes, though, my work takes me outside, in crowds, with other artists.
Last week was one of those weeks. It was great to help the local food bank, chat with visitors and artists, and enjoy the festival atmosphere.
This week, I'm back in my studio. Working at the wheel or doing sgraffito with only the sound of birds and snoring dogs, I'm enjoying the quiet and slower atmosphere.
My word of the year is FLOW. Defined as "the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully emersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the process of the activity."
I can't think of a better description of these two weeks. Whether outside selling bowls or inside making bowls, I was full emersed, focused, involved and enjoying the activities. There is the ying/yang, black/white, and contrast in each setting and activity, of course. But that's not a bad thing.
I used to think, or maybe I was taught, that consistency was key to a good life. That having a smooth road, good weather, even progress, and a well-planned routine added up to an even flow. And so, I see that throughout my life, I've worked very hard to chart a consistent course. Of course, that hasn't always worked so well. In, fact it hasn't worked at all. I either pushed and pushed to get down the road faster or cut off anything that got in the way of a smooth routine.
Now I know this is not flow. And while it may be a life, it's not really living. Flow is not about controling, pushing or hiding. Flow is emersing myself in life, with all it's noise and quiet, crowds and solitude, selling work and making it with energy, focus and most of all in joy.
My new mantra: In. Out. In. Out. Repeat.