I was stuck, the mud was caked around my shoes, and I couldn’t go any farther. The day had been an exercise of exhausting my will to the point of wanting to give up. And I had just written something I thought so beautiful and profound about dancing to the grave. I love that idea still and believe it to be true, but yesterday was not a day in which I was dancing effortlessly. I was shimmying and shaking alright, but to try and get my self unstuck from the scrap heap I found myself in mentally and emotionally.
Then as I was walking back into my home after doing my things, and I was Struck. Struck, by birds. Not actual birds, but the idea of birds and I did not know why. I just had the thought I wanted to write about birds, as a disclaimer I am not overly fond of birds or even have any real curiosity for them, but alas there I was in my apartment wanting to write about birds. So I grabbed my notepad and a pen and here is what I wrote.
“There were more birds in the sky, at least more than I was used to seeing. How come they look so different today? There isn’t anything strange about a flock of birds, right? I tilted my head looking up and sideways. Do they always fly straight up like that?”
Then the urge to write another word about birds left me as quickly as it had come and I thought. What the hell was that? Am I going to write the sequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds?
Birds 2: Going up! Coming to a theater near you this summer.
I didn’t know what to do with it, so, I left it. I had to meet a friend about another writing project anyway, which I was excited about because the book I am currently working on is leaving me with a sense of staleness. Which brings me to my point and how I rediscovered flow.
It didn’t truly sink in until this morning after I began my exercise and meditation what the whole Bird concept was about. But as I woke up this morning in the same rut that I had gone to sleep in, it hit me. Birds don’t fly up! “Well duh Matt, everyone knows that,” you might be saying. But I had to think about it. Why don’t birds fly straight up to where they are going? Well its obvious right, to fly, lift is required, and a bird flying straight up lacks a necessary ingredient to flying, Lift.
Follow me for a second. When a bird leaves the ground, it’s nest, the top of your head or where ever it is; it flies out first. It must first catch the wind if you get my drift. Ha Ha. If it tried shooting straight up, it would find itself plummeting right back down on top of your head. It requires the resistance produced by currents of air directly opposing it to climb higher. The flow of air must first hit it before being lifted and then moved by it.
“Eurica! My God Matt you have done it, you figured out flight!” I also figured out I am the same as a bird. That in the seeking of wanting to take off in my writing career I decided to go straight up, and while I lifted my big bird butt a few feet off the ground, I lacked a necessary ingredient to take off truly.
Discovering the Flow:
When I write what I love and the things that are coming to me naturally through my own curiosity I jump back into the flow, I rediscover the streams of air that at first feel like resistance to the direction that I want to go. Only to find that they are ideas, concepts, images, that are asking to take me higher and it is up to me to either CATCH THE WIND or be knocked out of the sky by it. But I do have that choice, and the beautiful thing is I have discovered ways of getting in the flow or realizing I don’t have to go straight up. It doesn’t have to be so hard, and in fact, it shouldn’t be so hard. Yesterday it was so hard because I was running on self-propulsion. This morning it is easy as I write this its like it is being dictated to me, and all I have to do is spread my wings and allow the flow of air to lift me higher as I ride that beautiful gust of inspiration even higher.
So, Here are some simple practices you can add into your day to help you recognize the flow of air hitting you in the beak.
1. Set your intentions for the day:
I do this through prayer and daily goal setting. I have a certain amount of work I want to get done each day, and I outline that clearly for myself. I pray to be open, and willing to anything that will guide me in the direction I need to go.
2. Listen, be aware of your surroundings and be in the moment:
I do this through meditation. I sit quietly with my self, eyes closed focusing on my breath for at least 20 minutes every morning. This allows me to not react to crazy thoughts that explode in my mind to get me to move. It is incredible how much more calm and aware I become when I do not react to every crazy thought that passes through my mind.
I like to exercise, it has been a Godsend for me. But anything to get your blood flowing will work. Whatever you want to do, do it but make sure you move. Blood flow is necessary for healthy brain function.
4. Be of Service to someone else:
This is how I get out of my head and into the world around me. And I promise you that voice that says. “This person has nothing to offer me, look at them, they are falling apart at the seams”. Is the same voice trying to keep you from going higher? It is pure arrogance on my part to believe that I know how God or Birds are going to show up in my life. Be Open.
5. Read, listen, or watch something that moves you:
I do this every morning when I work out. I listen to motivational, inspirational speakers. It opens me up to new ways of thinking about my current situation and dang it; it makes me feel good. And guess what when I feel good, I usually do good.
6. It isn’t the end of the world:
I get caught up in this one a lot. Then I pull myself back and say, “Matt, remember you can try again tomorrow or an hour or even 10 minutes from now.” Take a deep breath and try again, as long as I am breathing, it ain’t over. And finally,
7. Remember WHY you are doing this in the first place:
I lose sight of my WHY a lot. I started writing because I loved how it made me feel. I wrote two books in two months because I was lost in this flow of love for the story I was telling. As soon as I stopped focusing on Why I was doing it and began to focus on where it was taking me and the success available, I dropped like a bird flying straight up. By remembering WHY I am writing I am allowing my self to be in the flow because the flow is the Journey, man, it is the reason, it is the purpose and the only purpose for me being here. For me to dress it up as anything besides experiencing all the zigs and zags life throws at me, is to deny the reason I am here.
Enjoy your Journey on the way up.
I want to hear from you. How do you find flow in your day?
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