I concede that the universe does open up and shine down wonderful, scary, and bizarre acts of utter randomness from time-to-time. For example, in 1815 Robert B. Thomas, publisher of the Farmer’s Almanac, discovered too late that the weather predictions for July and August got mixed up with those for January and February. Imagine the reaction of critics upon seeing that the forecast was for snow in July!
Well, as fate would have it for Mr. Thomas, a volcano, in what is now present day Indonesia, erupted that very year and cast ash across the earth’s atmosphere for over six months dropping (read more: click image) global temperatures by as much as 5 degrees and, you guessed it, it snowed in July!!
I can’t, however, abide relying on this ‘maddening capriciousness,’ as Elizabeth Gilbert calls it, for everything. In her TED Talk she shares the difficult work that goes into her craft of being an author. It struck me that the patterns that are formed through any skilled work can result in brilliance and moments of “Flow.”
“Flow” is defined as a ‘non-ordinary state of consciousness’ and, as such, comes and goes. Steve Kotler’s “Flow Genome Project” is an effort to map the conditions that bring on this ‘peak state.’ (click the image to see the TED Talk)
In the article, “Hacking Abundance” it is encouraging to see that the peak state of Flow is not just maddening capriciousness and can be pursued as a ‘stage’ rather than merely a ‘state.’ The pursuit, however, is voluntary but through incremental development we can extend the duration of the Flow state and move from ‘state experiences’ to ‘stage development.’ There is then hope that the (check out the Flow article: click image) ‘state’ can eventually become a ‘trait’ and Flow can be a more regular and not-so-non-ordinary state of consciousness.
Elizabeth Gilbert discusses the Greek and Roman beliefs in daemons and geniuses that were considered responsible for the creativity of the people in ancient times. Within the Renaissance we saw a shift to the belief that we could be the source of creativity and brilliance and did not have to rely on external forces. Interestingly, I would contend that most people would now take responsibility for the creativity and brilliance and cite external forces(shortage of support or resources) for any short-comings. I would also contend that most people would not be able to deconstruct their peak moments to identify how they created the conditions for flow. Now with Kotler’s work we can consider the triggers and aspire to have more than just fleeting moments of altered consciousness.