The Euphoria of Being in Flow

Being in the moment, and reaching euphoria, amid life’s chaos
We were travelling along the coast of Croatia. In contrast to the sea of Instagram sailboats, we thought a road trip would be more fun — one that stopped in on the smaller towns.

Along our journey, we stayed in a town called Zadar which is normally known for the ‘Sea Organ’ and the ‘Monument to the Sun’ art installations. As beautiful as these were, they didn’t come close to what we witnessed from ‘The King’. What he could do at his age was unbelievable. And it wasn’t just what he did, but the way in which he did it. We lugged our bags from the bus to The Lazy Monkey hostel. We didn’t know anything about the area we were staying in, and we didn’t know anything about Zadar. It seemed calm and had a laid-back beach town vibe to it.

To our delight, there was a beautiful rock face access to the Adriatic Sea just a 5-minute walk away from where we were staying. We headed down there, lay in the sun and took a dip into the extra salty water. We had no idea what was coming.
A short old man with a leathery tan waltzed in. He was probably in his 60s or 70s and he wore the same underwear-style swimmers. He’d say hello to everyone — he was a cheerful man. He had a charisma and a swagger to him. You could tell these were his ends — and that he was respected by the locals. He was more at home in the sea than Poseidon. He’d set up his things, relax and smoke a cigarette… And then he’d dive.
He dived over and over for hours. I can’t explain how he did it. But it wasn’t normal — that’s all I can tell you.It was like art. It was watching a master at work. And everyone was mesmerised.

He dived effortlessly. He dived like he’d dived a million times before. He dived head first, inches from rocks that would split a skull right open. There’s something really special about watching someone with 60 years of experience at something. Even if you don't know anything about the skill, there’s a level of appreciation that we have intuitively. Like when you watch an NBA player control the ball, you can’t comprehend how hard it is — but you know they’re good because it looks so silky smooth. And that fluidity is exactly what he had when he leapt into the water. A fluidity that can only be achieved when one is completely in alignment with what they’re doing. When The King dived, there was nothing else going on in the world.

He was locked in — completely in the moment. Not a serious focus, but a blissful one. Pure enjoyment. He was in flow.

Flow is being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz.— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Each day on Earth, we experience suffering in one way or another. I don’t need to describe all the ways we suffer, because you know. You know how overwhelming life can be. You know it can tighten your shoulders and weigh heavy on your mind. And that’s why we need to access our version of flow. When I watched him dive, I knew that diving made him forget — I knew it relaxed his shoulders. I knew that he didn’t do it for fun. He needed to dive. And he just kept diving into that salty, ice-cold water. A bad day, a good day, an average day. It wouldn’t matter. The King would dive. It was therapy to him.
And that’s exactly why we dive. That’s why we hike, swim, run, lift weights, climb, ski and dance. We do it to return to our default state — our natural selves, for just a moment of escape from the mind-bogglingly complex web of our life experiences.

You don’t think about work when you’re trying to navigate a pick and roll in a basketball game. You don’t think about your financial issues when you’re scaling a mountain. You’re not distracted when you’ve got 100kg on your back and you need to squat it up. The King wasn’t leaving his life’s problems to grow and compound and be worse when he got back. He wasn’t ignoring his duties. But he was taking a necessary escape—a timeout of sorts.

And to me — like his diving — that’s beautiful. For when his mind is cluttered, and life at home is stressful, he can come to the cliff face, chat to the locals, light up his cigarette……and dive.

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