When we're happy, everything seems to fall into place. We're in sync with the universe. Irritants shrink to manageable sizes. The fog of self-absorption gives way to the inner joy we're meant to know all the time. But somehow, it never seems to last very long; pretty soon, the old ways return and dim our vision with the familiar, the routine, the same-old.
Yes, there are snatches of happiness in our life, though, enough of them to keep hope alive. They occur when we're shopping and our hunt for the perfect dress is rewarded, when our hole-in-one gets to be the talk of our crowd and when we meet that perfect someone whose very presence makes us glow. Ah, at last, true happiness. But (sigh) even the best of loves will be seen in the light of day, flaws and all. If the current runs deep, the union will survive the jolt and continue to thrive, perhaps in a more realistic key. Temporary insanity is the psychoanalytic definition of romantic love, but for some of us, the mania doesn't die but simply eases off, giving way to a more sustainable, quieter heartbeat.
But romantic love aside, there is another path to the deep, throbbing joy that is always there, waiting to be experienced. And it lies within. You and I — and every thinking, feeling person fortunate enough to find a gratifying activity — can tap into the supreme joy of flow. It's not man-made, and it can't be accessed by an artificial stimulant or drug. (On this point, some Carlos Castaneda fans will definitely take exception!) Yes, this thing called flow visits only those who seek it the old-fashioned way: through immersion in a totally engrossing activity. A good friend of mine finds it when she paints; she says she totally forgets the time and the chores she must do afterward. My son finds access through meditation; he tells me that insights come to his fertile mind when it is seemingly empty — an irony deserving our attention! I myself can dive into my writing in a way that totally shuts out noise, voices and the passage of hours. But that doesn't happen every time I take the dive, because I'm not always focusing deeply enough. (Enough said.) Entering that rare/privileged mindset requires laserlike focus, intense concentration and total surrender — a price of admission not worthwhile for everyone, but for those who have been there, it's definitely worth repeating, again and again.
The state of flow is truly the holy grail. Imagine, such a priceless gift is in each of us. Yet we look for it outside, in the world of people and distraction and amusement. Not worth a hill of beans compared with the stuff inside you. So very few ever access it. My hope is that these words might just prod you to begin the journey into the good stuff within. If you're anything like me, you'll stay connected to your inmost gold, your thoughts and creativity. Bring that rare flow into your life; find some activity that shuts out the boisterous world for a while. Follow your bliss to your private island of Flow. Oh, how I wish it to you.
DEAR READERS: We've uncovered a treasure-trove of "Single File" paperbacks — in perfect condition, ready to read. Send $15 and your address to: Susan Deitz, C/O Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. I'll send you a signed copy.
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