They talk about the runner’s high. I, in fact, may have experienced that at one point in my life, when I was running. We all know this. We hear this all the time. Go get high. Run! And some people do but most people do not. So much for that.
I have been noticing recently that I can reach this kind of blissful state . . . when I do artwork. I’ve been doing artwork/crafts now consistently every day for 35 years. And by consistently I mean from one to five hours a day or more. I have of course taken days off, but not ever because I wanted to. Through tragedy and comedy, I have allowed my hands to create.
The all-encompassing dive into our work, our craft, our art is at the heart of psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s research in his famous book “Flow”
According to Csikszentmihalyi,
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
So this is the deal, you really don’t want to, or maybe cannot even, stop doing whatever it is you are doing. Time passes. Missed meals and missed appointments pile up. You are stuck in place doing this thing. And why? Think about it. For a non-weaver it seems rather ridiculous to hunch over a loom for hours and hours, under over, under over, hours and hours. I have been questioning this for years. I have understood the concept of flow for a very long time. I get it. What I hadn’t quite figured out was what could possibly be actually going on in my brain to make me feel that way. How can over under, over under, wrap around, whatever I am doing with this fiber to make me feel this way? And why?
I am not a brain scientist. But it seems to me that chemicals are rushing around one’s brain when it is in a state of flow. And they feel really, really good. I guess it’s like the high people seek from drugs. The idea of doing a drug and sitting around thinking about all the great things I can be doing versus getting high just doing those things seems like a better choice on so many levels.
I would love to see a brain scan of me weaving. I imagine all kinds of colors flashing all over the place. Or at least that is how I visualize the accompanying high to making stuff with my hands. It also begs the question: why?
I imagine this is the quality that allows us, as humans, to create magic, whether it be a piece of art, a space ship, a computer, great code. Without this quality of intense concentration (or flow) what would inspire us to sit there for hours doing what seems like just repetitive motions? I would think we would not do it and just seek pleasure in more obvious ways. Let your imagination figure out what those are.
It is this high that makes us create or allows us the grace to create. It is beautiful and all-encompassing and it is something which I obviously live for. I can’t imagine not feeling that way for at least a portion of my life.
So at its most base level, I now realize fully that when I create with my hands and go into that flow my brain is being bathed in feel-good chemicals that keep my butt rooted to that seat for hours on end.
So go flow, get high, weave!