I’m currently approaching the first weekend of a three week orchestra festival. Our first concert is tomorrow evening, and I get to play Peter and the Wolf as part of the program.
In the meantime, I’ve also been preparing for next week’s concerts because they include a flute and harp recital, a woodwind sextet performance, and a performance of the Mozart Flute and Harp Concerto.
This three weeks in the summer is always intense, but this year is extra so!
As I was planning and packing, I was preparing to feel a consistent sense of tension and anxiousness just based on the sheer amount of performances I would have. Now that I’m here and settled in, though, I feel an overwhelming sense of calm.
If I take a step back and look at it from a distance, it makes so much sense, and I feel it every year when I arrive. Although I have a lot of musical plates to keep spinning, my other usual life responsibilities have been temporarily taken off the table.
I have as much time as I need to practice, I can spend time in quiet reflecting on rehearsals or visualizing aspects of upcoming performances, and if I want to listen to the repertoire I’m performing I don’t have to find a place to be isolated at home to do so or squeeze it in between lessons.
The simplicity of my days here - a predictable timeline of commitments, having only the flute to really focus on (although I’m doing other work here and there), and even knowing exactly what and when I’ll eat creates an underlying calm that I appreciate so much surrounding these big concerts.
Musicians, athletes and performers often talk about being in a flow state. Usually they mean a time in a performance or a game that doesn’t last for a long extended period where we are so engaged in the moment that everything else falls away.
Having access to this simplicity of lifestyle, even for a few short weeks, creates a sort of overarching flow state for me that makes it so much easier to get to work, go to bed early, and generally do all the things I wish I usually had more time for when it comes to practicing.
Eventually, though, I’ll head home and back to reality (and I am always glad to do so when the time comes!). The question, then, is how do we create a little of this life flow in our regular day-to-day?
I’m reminded of all the stories of CEOs who own only one type and color of shirt and the same with their selection of pants so that they never have to consider their outfits, or celebrities who eat exactly the same meals every day. I have to admit, that sounds a little boring to me, but I do love a good routine and maybe this is why.
It certainly could be that a key to creating this flow on a regular basis is consciously creating a helpful routine around the basics - groceries, taking our vitamins, knowing when we will sit down to do our deep work so that it’s easier to shut out the noise, etc..
What I’m experiencing for the next three weeks is the supersized version of this life flow, but it does serve as inspiration to find a little more space in my day to day life when I head home.
How do you create space to flow in your daily tasks?
Back when I started blogging again, I was unconvinced at the value of sharing online for myself. I am more convinced now, but more bothered by the interesting trade off that we see everywhere in business and technology: the value traps of constant and relevant. (Get more likes more followers don’t miss a day or a week….)
It’s the same for creatives as it would be for any business - although maybe slightly more challenging due to the unscripted nature of our work: if we get so absorbed in whatever the process is, social media or otherwise, we can forget life happens outside of that whether we acknowledge it or not.
Especially now that we can carry some or all of what we do around with us in our pocket, there is a serious need for us to draw distinctions. Not boundaries necessarily (although those are also good), but clarity for ourselves about what is real life and whether that really needs to be monetized or curated as part of our image or work.
For me there is also always the question of whether it matters at all if we can or can’t manage our usual volume of output online. Even though social media has become an expectation personally and professionally in some ways for almost all of us, and even though I hope what I share is useful, none of it affects my day to day interactions in lessons, rehearsals, or my personal life.
It’s well established at this point that social media has a way of making us all feel as if we aren’t good enough or doing enough, but I also think it adds a tremendous amount of effort to what, for creatives, is already an extremely difficult work-life balance.
I saw (a little ironically) an interesting social media post recently that said practice is unpaid work (at least monetarily it’s quite true that the two to three hours a day I try to put in prior to a difficult gig go without compensation other than the hours I am actually in rehearsal).
It seems we could add to that:
Social media is unpaid work.
Obviously that’s not true if it’s actually gaining you a sale or a new student every or most of the time you post, but for most of us I would guess that’s not the case.
So, as you consider where to put your time or what you are making yourself feel guilty about, remember your priorities.
Remember what makes you feel rested and prepared. Remember what work is most important to you, whether it’s paid or unpaid (there can be value in both). It will be unique to you, and it should be.
Remember that we can all be empowered in our own choices about how we interact with our life, and especially in our enjoyment of the passage of time.
Hi, I'm Morgann! Flutist, teacher, aspiring yogini, and life long learner figuring out how to create my way through life one crazy idea at a time.