Musings about the importance and impact of art and art education in the 21st century.

Musings about the importance of art and art education

Finding Your Flow

♠ Posted by ArtMuse at 9:18 PM
Every once in awhile, when I feel overwhelmed by chores, stress, and the general anxiety sometimes brought about by everyday living, I turn to a good piece of literature to provide me with some solace. Being that I'm off the whole week of Christmas to New Year's I've taken it upon myself to read a book a day (or at least try). One of the books I just finished was entitled Finding Flow, after skimming the library shelves the name on the binding practically jumping off the shelf at me. From all outward appearances it seemed like the perfect inspirational/philosophical book to read for a quick holiday stress pick-me-up. Even though at 150 pages, it's a quick read, it wasn't disappointing.

Providing concise short theories on everything from sociology to spirituality, and Karl Marx to Sigmund Freud this short volume discussed the idea of using positive psychic (Not the ESP kind) focus and concentration as a way to achieve your goals and stop an 'entropy' of the mind brought about by boredom and the over pursuance of passive leisure activities. Even more interesting that the basic premises of the book, was its consistent use of 'the creative individual' as an exemplary model of a positive, proactive, useful, and most importantly, happy life. Now, telling an artist that the pursuit of a creative life is probably one of the best ways to find happiness is preaching to the choir, but for many self proclaimed 'uncreative' people, this may be a shock, and even an insurmountable challenge. For those of you who constitute the latter half of my milieu, perhaps these excerpts will help you to understand the 'artists' way of life, or at least their approach to it:

"When asked what has been the most difficult obstacle to overcome in his career, the novelist Richard Stern answered: I think it's that rubbishy part of myself, that part which is described by such words as vanity, pride, the sense of not being treated as I should be, comparison with others, and so on. I've tried rather hard to discipline that. And I've been lucky that there has been enough that's positive to enable me to counter a kind of biliousness and resentment...which I've seen paralyze colleagues of mine, peers who are more gifted than I. I've felt it in myself. And I've had to learn to counter that. I would say that the chief obstacle is-oneself. For each of us, the chief obstacle to a good life is oneself. Yet if we learn to live wit it, and like Ulysses find a way to resist the siren song of it's needs, the self can become a friend, a helper, a rock upon which to build a fulfilling life. Stern goes on to describe how as a writer, he can tame the unbridled ego and make it do creative work: Of course there are things in myself...which I know are bad, mean, twisted, weak, this, that, or the other thing. I can draw strength from that...I can transform them. They're sources of strength. And as I said earlier, the writer takes those, and they're his material. "

Another good excerpt from the book:

This attitude toward one's choices is well expressed in the concept of 'amor fati-or love of fate-a central concept in Nietzsche's philosophy. For instance, in discussing what it takes to live fully, he writes: My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fait; That one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not bakward, not in all eternity...Not merely bear what is necessary...but love it. And I want to learn more and ore to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful."

My best advice? read, read, read (anything and everything you want) and then pursue it, and in the words of a fellow blogger, "engage and persist"...and hopefully we will all find our flow!