I texted my brother about the corona virus. He replied “You are so old school bro. To have street cred you need to start calling it the ‘V.'” As we self-quarantine due to our age and health, V takes on another meaning. We are part of the “Vulnerables.”
We are in Day 6 of being home alone together. It feels a bit like the Groundhog Day movie. The first several days felt like the opening part of the film realizing that we are likely to be trapped in this same day over and over again. The lack of any live sports makes it clear that TV is not going to be a device to help us get through social distancing behavioral change. It is time to change the flow of daily time. It is time to get the creative juices flowing.
So we choose to be more like the second half of the groundhog day movie and celebrate a daily routine of creative flow. Each day now looks something like:
- Wake up in the middle of the night after 4-5 hours of sleep
- Watch a Colbert episode (or other late night streaming comedy)
- Read the online Washington Post, NY Times and Seattle Times
- Text with my East Coast siblings who are starting their day
- Try to go back to sleep for a couple of hours
- Awaken and hope that the sun will show up today (get thee away gray and rain)
- Get up, get coffee, get Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Muesli and Oat Milk
- Go to our deck and take a sunrise panoramic photo or two for my year of sunrises photo collection
- Go to my easy chair to watch the morning sunrise and continue my Kindle reading streak
- Give Jamie a good morning kiss as she awakens to search for her coffee
- Write a blog post
- Do an acrylics on canvas painting experiment
- Connect electronically with a former colleague
- Get a vegan lunch
- Update my Journey of the Foot free writing
- Change into hiking clothes
- Go for a slow hike on one of the many island trails
- If at Blakely Harbor, take a photo of the decaying octopus stump
- Otherwise, capture the sun light on the emerging spring flowering
- Come back to the house and watch MSNBC/CNN
- Sort out how much my 401K has lost today
- Understand the implications of today’s rounds of restrictions due to the “V”
- Delight in several Facetime calls with grand children as they read us a book and share what they learned in their home schooling today
- Craft a salad and prepare the evening meal
- Have a wee dram or two of whiskey
- Watch some TV if a recorded program is available
- Take my magnesium pill to calm the leg muscles from our daily exercise
- Read for a bit
- Turn the light off – good night dearest Jamie!
Flow is something I am fascinated with.
Even in the midst of the V, we establish a flow of a day that is enriching and inspiring and healthy.
Yet, I never had the words to describe FLOW until I came across Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience in 1990. I live for the flow times that I can collaborate with colleagues at a whiteboard to design new software innovations. One of the little things in life I enjoyed about teaching at the Institute of Design at Illinois Tech is learning how to pronounce Mihaly’s last name.
My formal introduction to flow was through flow charts in my first computer programming class at Duke University in 1968.
We were required to have a flow chart for every program that we wrote. In theory, we were supposed to do the flow chart first and then write the program. But I have always been a bottom up thinker, so I dived into writing the program and then after having written the program, tested and revised it, I did the flow chart. As programmers the notion of flow and flow of control is embedded and embodied in all of our thinking.
I realized how embedded when I finally came across a description of business financials that I could readily understand. The author of Understanding a Company’s Finances described all of the balance sheet, income statements, cash flow statements etc as a series of flow charts. I had no problem understanding the stuff I had to deal with daily as an executive after finding the flow chart metaphor to describe what was happening financially. It was the first time I really grokked how depreciation worked.
While learning with the biodynamic crowd at Benziger Family Winery, I came across the notion of Flow Forms.
“Developed by John Wilkes in the 1970’s, Flowforms were inspired by mountain streams and the powerfully revitalizing properties of naturally purified water. The vortex principle, introduced into biodynamic agriculture by Rudolf Steiner, helped Wilkes to create a series of water features that used water itself as a force for change.”
I loved these sculptures and the notion of adding energy to a place through the “engineered” flow of water.
More recently, I love walking across the bridge at Blakely Harbor and looking to see which way the tide is flowing. Is it coming into the pond area or flowing out? It is a delightful question to interact with Jamie to see if we can figure out from the flow the direction of the tide (not so easy during slack tides).
As I continue with my daily painting experiments, I play with synthesizing abstract forms of flow. Can I capture my professional world of flow charts? Can I find ways to flow colors into and through each other? Can I capture the aliveness of flow?
While the flow of each day is the same, the details are wonderfully different. My challenge in the Age of V is to “WAKE UP!” and be aware of the many gifts of nature and family and friends and colleagues that surround me.
I periodically repeat my personal mantra:
Moving – Flowing – Flowering
My reading this morning about pilgrimages on the Camino de Santiago in Spain reminds me to find the extraordinary in the ordinary of the flow of life.