I had not planned to go to the studio today. Then the morning fell apart in a cascade of cancelled plans after a long drive and a return through multiple construction delays. Very minor irritations, I know. Still leaving me with the overwhelming sense of being obstructed-and unproductive-for hours that had been so promising.
I was in my dance clothes, so headed to the studio. The first part of the session was not pretty, as I tried to shed the frustration over the morning’s numerous roadblocks. I noticed that I kept checking the clock, rarely a good sign, and moving through the warmup distractedly, half-heartedly.
Floor work: check. Pliés: check. Feet and legs: check….
And then inspiration sparked. I had a sudden idea for starting a new piece, something out of my comfort zone, and intriguing. I decided to give it a whirl. Presto! What followed is the main reason I am still so passionate about dancing, and devoted to the practice.
For when I hopped on the ride fueled by inspiration, time did indeed fall away. Ideas kept firing. Challenges and joy kept mounting. My listlessness was transformed into a stream of creative energy. I was transported. Ah, transcendence!
My experience reminded me why it is so important to show up: to be available for these moments of epiphany. It’s that state of optimal experience or “flow” that genius/guru Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has researched exhaustively, and written about in his groundbreaking book, “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.”
As I’ve mentioned in numerous posts, like here and here, his definition of “flow” describes perfectly my experience today. It’s that ineffable state when we are fully engaged in something deeply challenging and meaningful to us such that time falls away. Indeed, the next time I checked the clock, forty minutes had flown by in a wave of sweat, exertion and transcendence.
And the magic keeps rippling boundlessly from these experiences, because from them “…we learn to become more than what we were…once we have tasted this joy, we will redouble our efforts to taste it again. This is the way the self grows…that allows us to…. make significant contributions to humankind.”~Mihaly Csikszentmhalyi
We need to find what fires us up and then show up for it. Again and again and again. For ourselves and for the Universe!
Photos courtesy of Nikki Carrara © 2016, 2017; Sculpture: Gil Boro