Friday, April 17, 2009

moralizing on flow

A rock climber and poet describing the psychology of optimal experience (quoted from Flow, pg 54):

The mystique of rock climbing is climbing; you get to the top of a rock glad it's over but really wish it would go on forever. The justification of climbing is climbing, like the justification of poetry is writing; you don't conquer anything except things in yourself.... The act of writing justifies poetry. climbing is the same: recognizing that you are a flow. The purpose of the flow is to keep on flowing, not looking for a peak or utopia but staying in the flow. It is not a moving up but a continuous flowing; you move up to keep the flow going. There is no possible reason for climbing except the climbing itself; it is a self-communication.

I think that describes well the allure (and compulsion) of cycling to me. But it needn't be cycling; a hundred other variants of adventurism would do. Presently, it's cycling. Since transplanting to the relative doldrums of spirit that is the North American continent east of the Rockies, it's the best I've found.

Besides activities of adventurism (cycling, skiing, hiking, backpacking, etc.), flow manifests itself in my life in other areas as well. A few that come to mind immediately:

debriefing a favorite class exercise (teaching...sometimes)
driving (more accurately, road trip driving)
reading (on occassion)
board gaming (at its best)
twilight conversation with friends

Would that I could get into it whilst grading papers.

Not to say that there isn't crap in life worthy of discipline's application (doing dishes, cleaning the house, changing diapers, attending meetings, and grading papers), but damn the person, religion, organization, institution, or culture that would condemn or make to feel guilty a man (or woman, obviously) for doing that thing, or structuring his life to facilitate the doing of that thing which, when doing it, that man feels most human...most fulfilled in the measure of his creation.

"Oppression, from the gospel truth you cannot hide."



Gregory said...

>>the relative doldrums of spirit that is the North American continent west of the Rockies.

I think you mean 'east.'

goat said...

Indeed. Embarrassing.