The flow of it all

Many years ago I was traveling through South Korea and had the opportunity to visit one of the country’s national treasures. This particular treasure was an actual person and the thing he did that made him treasure worthy was Chinese calligraphy (or, at least a Korean version of it).

I’ve mentally revisited the old guy several times over the years and last week during the Sundance photographers series I was back in the land of the morning calm. I was transported after hearing Henry Cartier-Bresson talk about his photography work. Although I believe Bresson cared about the photographs he created I had the feeling he cared more about the process of photography. The thing that really rocked Henry’s world was the act of making pictures…the take.
Which is why I thought of the Korean calligrapher. This man said the real joy for him was the process of creating. I had the feeling there were no production goals rather, the goal was to stay in production.

Although ink and brush are different than silver halide and glass the mental state the creators achieve is similar. Time stands still. There is a merging of action and awareness. There is a balance between ability level and challenge.

Or, as Bresson says, “The eye, mind and heart have to be aligned.”

Another word for this is flow. Coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentimihalyi, flow “is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling or energized focus, full involvement and success in the process of activity.”

I like flow. I’m a big believer in finding your flow and going there often. Live there if you can. I can’t imagine a more satisfying pursuit…except maybe learning how to pronounce Csikszentimihalyi.

Keith

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~ by keithphilpott on March 12, 2008.

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