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May 06, 2019 21:39:55

Creative living & the flow state

by @jasonleow | 458 words | 223🔥 | 261💌

Jason Leow

Current day streak: 223🔥
Total posts: 261💌
Total words: 104970 (419 pages 📄)

I just watched At Eternity's Gate, a biopic about the life of the master painter Vincent Van Gogh. It's a beautifully intimate art film, shot in a way to bring the audience to experience Van Gogh's life through his eyes. I love the story of his journey, and the dialogue. So much of what the character says about painting can be applied or interpreted in the light of writing, and also generally, living a creative life.


Some themes I extracted from the quotable quotes:


1. External validation

2. The solitude of creativity

3. The flow state

4. Madness and genius



The flow state


I've spent all my life alone, in a room. I need to go out and work to forget myself. I want to be out of control. I need to be in a feverish state. It's called the act of painting for a reason.

I paint, as a matter of fact, to stop thinking. I stop thinking, and I feel that I'm a part of everything outside and inside of me.


Many athletes in competitive sports will attest to this. I believe many craftsman, developers and skill-based practitioners experience this too. This peak experience of being in the zone, the mind's dialogue quiets down yet there's a relaxed concentration and alertness, where everything clicks, action is effortless and ideas come wave after wave. The very experience often becomes the main goal, not the extrinsic rewards that comes from the peak performance. Coming from a sport background back in school, I had experienced deep flow states before, which I now try to bring to my work. I too feel attracted to work in a "feverish state", because that feeling goes so deep, and feels so satisfying. It feels like a very authentic experience of what it means to feel alive. Truly alive in the most primal sense.


I love how he mentioned that he wants to be "out of control" - because control in this sense is the intellect, the ego, which wants to be in charge with thoughts and reasons. And by being out of control, we give up thoughts for actions beyond thoughts, a way of being beyond reasons. Sometimes, our minds can feel like being alone in a room. A mental space, that you and only you inhabit. And by stepping out of it through flow, one feels the breath of fresh air, the rays of warm light, the cool breeze on one's face. Yes, that's flow. 


It's strange to write this way about flow, because it sounds almost like a religious experience. But in many ways, I feel that's not far from the truth. It does feel very similar, if not the same, just that it arose under a different context and attributing factors. It's spiritual for sure. 

  • 1

    @jasonleow Love this series on flow. I'll definitely put that movie on the watch list. There is a crazy part of FLOW which is the last part when you finished whatever you are doing. You completely forgot yourself and it takes quite a while to load who you are. This really scares me sometimes.

    Sometimes when you finished your piece it feels like you don't know what to do with your life anymore( at least for a moment).

    Chris 🤔🇵🇭 avatar Chris 🤔🇵🇭 | May 06, 2019 22:01:00
    • 1

      @chrisdeuda yes yes! It's like we unplugged from the matrix for a few minutes and get return-to-the-body shock upon coming back. Yeah initially it can be scary esp if it went really deep and hours went by. But I'd come to savour it like a drug! Do you? ;D

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | May 06, 2019 22:07:40
    • 1

      @jasonleow You are right. The matrix is the perfect example of the unplugged thing. Yeah, really love that state. Especially if I already build enough practice on specific skills and competence like in coding, writing, and playing guitar.

      Chris 🤔🇵🇭 avatar Chris 🤔🇵🇭 | May 06, 2019 22:46:00
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