Sunday, July 20, 2008


A quiet mind can be one of the best respites from the stresses of life. Of course finding a way to quiet one's mind is difficult.

Some practice meditation, but I've never been able to stop long enough to try to meditate for relaxation purposes. Maybe that's the curse of television, or perhaps that's what the pace of my career has trained me for.

In flow, the noise drops back and the focus becomes central and can override everything else. Prior to management, I could flow when I was programming. I could stay up all night, or just work on one more thing. Soon enough, I'd be late for dinner, a meeting or missing lunch, and consumed by solving some problem.

I've always sought activities outside of work where I find flow. Performance driving, skiing, mountain biking and most recently, I'm trying to learn to surf. When I do those things, there is little else on my mind. It's me, my body, physics and intense focus.

Interestingly, I just returned from a long road trip. My family and I travelled south along Eastern Oregon, Nevada and California to Carmel and back north along the Coastlines of California and Oregon. It was a rewarding trip, particularly in one unexpected way.

Unlike parking yourself on beach at some resort, being catered to and doing nothing relaxing, there's very little that is physically restful about driving 3000 miles on a roadtrip, camping 3/4 of the nights you spend on the trip. It's a lot of work, and can be very tiring.

On the 24th night of the trip, I was thinking about getting home and the end of the trip. My thoughts drifted to the question of what my next career step should be, and from there it was off to the races. My mind became very noisy, almost randomly firing concerns, questions about the future and just about everything else that had been deferred during our travels.

After finally falling asleep and waking up the next morning, I realized that the trip had ended, and at the same time that something kind of special had happened on this trip. I experienced flow for a very long time on the trip. The trip had been physically challenging and clearly draining, but at the same time my mind had been experiencing a focus and a rest that might have been unattainable in any other situation.

I'd been flowing for at least a couple of weeks. The focus was on the trip, what we were doing and where we were going. Little else