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April 23, 2014

Do What You Want To Do & Increase Flow.

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Have you seen this documentary?

I recently received a challenge to refrain from responding to Facebook posts unless I’d truly read through the content, and I took it to heart.  Rather than racing through the posts to see how exciting everyone else’s lives were (and mine wasn’t—because a lot of my friends do truly extraordinary things, while I pretty much work, spin, yoga, blog… and respond to all of the exciting things they’re doing). So, a friend posted this. Take 15 minutes to watch it.

Imagine quitting a successful medical practice to follow your passion, and your passion is rollerblading along San Diego’s Pacific Beach boardwalk. Talk about doing a 180! Reinventing himself, Dr. John Kitchin now calls himself “Slomo.”

A former neurologist with all of the trappings of a great American life: Married, a mansion, a hot-damn Ferrari, exotic pets, he was clearly a successful surgeon. Now, Slomo rollerblades the ocean front, sometimes listening to opera music and most recently death metal. Wearing his signature blue tank top and a grey fishing hat, if you didn’t know him you would think he was a beach bum, looking slightly crazy, and possibly homeless. While he was still a surgeon he discovered he had an extremely rare disease that prevents him from recognizing faces, prosopagnosia.  About the same time he ran into a very old man and asked him what the secret to his longevity was. The old man said “Do what you want to do.” And so he did, and does.

Slomo lives in a reality that most of us don’t. In his manifesto, The Zone, he distinguishes between industrialized man and fundamental man (i.e. material world and spiritual world). He points out bluntly that if I don’t want to hear the message, I won’t, and that it’s most likely the rational human in me that is preventing me from accessing this information. The spiritual/subjective man lives in the Zone; the material/industrial man lives in the non-Zone. I definitely had an open mind as I read his writing. He’s a very bright man and he’s taking a completely different route than anyone could have predicted. That takes a lot of gumption. To live his life, in his flow, care free of the matter of this world.

He finds flow everywhere, and for the rest of us, it’s most evident when he’s on his rollerblades. Flow is reaching a state of effortless concentration and enjoyment. It’s when the time/space element collapses and all is present.  Time dilates. Action and awareness merge. Flow moments provide flashes of intense living against the dull background of everyday life. Slomo refers to it as the Zone, because it’s something we’re most familiar with today:  Athletes at their best when they’re in the Zone. The happiness that follows flow is out of our own making, and it leads to increasing complexity and growth in consciousness.

Flow happens when a person’s skills are fully involved in overcoming a challenge that is just about manageable, so it acts as a magnet for learning new skills and increasing challenges. If challenges are too low, one gets back to flow by increasing them. If challenges are too great, one can return to the flow state by learning new skills. Here’s where I notice flow all around me:

  • My son, gaming, and I have to break his concentration and remind him he has school in the morning.
  • The other son, on the soccer field, one with the game.
  • Painting a room, cleaning it out, creating a new space.
  • Meditation and yoga.
  • Spinning, and creating my music lists for a Spin class.
  • Writing, both creatively and strategic plans for work.
  • Laying by the ocean listening the waves crash gently.

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Editor: Screen shot from documentary

Photo: Wikimedia Commons 

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