Above is a video by Little Dragon, fronted by a shockingly soulful Swedish-Japanese singer. I freely admit that I poo-pooed their music the few times it came up on B's ipod, but after watching their live videos, I became very impressed. I spent about an hour savoring a handful of songs; you could say I was in a state of flow. What is flow? Read the article. Coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, it is a state of concentration and action, where you possess the skills to surmount a challenge. You lose track of time and are immersed in a state of active pleasure. To me, this is the holy grail of your life's actions. To achieve flow in both the workplace and in leisure is supremely rewarding. I never once encountered it when I was working, and that was partly due to my stubborn unwillingness to seek it out. I have experienced it when hearing a catchy, moving song for the first few times, and also when digging into a newfound hobby. Both occasions are short-lived, for the simple fact that novelty fades. The song becomes too predictable, and the skill or art presents challenges that seem too high to surmount. And I suspect there lies my problem in motivation. I would not go so far to call myself a Jill-of-all-Trades (except that I have in cover letters), but I do possess a shallow to moderate knowledge of most subjects that aren't overly technical or dry. It's easier to move on to something else when things start getting complicated, yeah? The only times in my childhood I have been instructed to dig deeper was in school and in orchestra. If it wasn't for the structure of schooling, I would have never been exposed to biology, music theory, grammar rules, social theory, etc. Wherein there lies the problem; it was all forced/ expected. I stopped thinking when I fulfilled the minimum requirements. Now that I have exited the system with a semi-valuable piece of paper, I find that I have no inner motivation outside of wanting to satisfy my basic needs. My most common response is to want to curl up and disappear, but this is clearly illogical and life is only getting shorter. I feel so ill-equipped for success, even for personal satisfaction. I see others pursuing their passions, taking risks, learning from failures, creating change, and talking openly about it. That's the definition of living, huh? I have always seen them from beyond a thick-paned sheet of glass, and I almost lionize them. I find that the more I think about these things, the less I act, and the more unhappy I feel. There is an infinite amount of distraction available on the internet that I've been numbing myself with (facebook, twitter, online shopping). And I'm getting tired of it. I'm lazy, freaked out, confused, scared of failure, and a neurotic perfectionist. They say it's the journey that is valuable, not the end product/ solution. If I can accept that, and also quit elevating others above me, then I have hope. Countless others have come into their own while going through a variety of challenges that are not present in my life. It seems stupid to write about this, and I apologize for the loads of self-help thoughts you readers have to slosh through. I'll be honest: I have no idea what I'm doing and approaching that realization causes me great anxiety. I hate that it does, and am trying to manage it the best that I can. I feel light years behind other people, yet I know I will be forever behind if I continue to choose inaction.
However, in a year chock full of employment possibilities and ensuing disappointments, I have a positive report! I got a part-time job working with my friend Kristi testing the quality of sound clips. Very random, I know, but I somehow managed to pass the very difficult test after two tries. At a rate of 1 word per 2 seconds, you listen to a series of spoken words (masked with varying distortion) and choose which one you hear out of two very similar-sounding terms. Ex. chad/ shad, bat/ gat, choose/ shoes. It's sleep-inducing after about 30 minutes, but having a solid part-time job will keep me busy and with maximum unemployment benefits through the year. I'm brainstorming ways in which to encourage flow in this situation, and the best I can come up with is to attempt deep thoughts in tandem.
Change happens when the desire for gain is greater than the fear of loss.