Gary Rogowski on flow

Now the concept of Flow is one that I have found of particular interest. My thanks to OMP student Mike Lecky for getting that book “Flow” in front of me a few years back. The basic idea of it is that when we are doing work for its own sake we can enter this realm where time disappears, the challenge in front of us takes up all our attention, and the rewards are personal, not external. The task is always a little bit beyond our reach so the struggle to manage it causes us to concentrate fiercely. It is a wonderful feeling and if you’ve carved wood, or rock climbed, or cooked for a party of 20 you know the focus it entails. Nothing else gets in the way. It’s called the Zone in athletics and it’s magic when you’re there.

This clarity is something I strive for in my work at the bench. Some days it’s there. Some days it’s not.

One thing I know that gets in the way of this feeling is a lack of flow in my shop space. [Hence the importance of a new shop space for my collection of tools and woods and woods and tools.] It’s hard to stay focused when I trip over things that are stacked too far out into the pathway. Or I have to move something again that has gotten in my way. Or the bench top is cluttered from the last batch of small jobs. Little stuff like that gets in the way of flow at the bench.

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Remember that quote from Pirsig’s book, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, “assembly of Japanese bicycle require great peace of mind.” So true. Just as true when working at the bench. Without it, Flow will not occur.

Look at your space. Eliminate the clutter. See how you move through the space and make this smoother, easier. It will help you find that other Flow more easily.

i’m familiar with programmers talking about flow, but it’s refreshing to see folks from other worlds describing it. i also learned that this flow book exists, written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who coined the term “flow” in the 1970s.

© 2024 peter schilling