04 Oct Selection, Clarity, the Pocket
It’s said so often in many different ways.
It occurred to me this morning that each different way of saying something is like a different language. We can all essentially say the same things: I want to go to the beach or quiero ir a la playa or ich will zum Strand gehen. But everyone resonates with one way.
I heard it said this way: Selection, Clarity, the Pocket, the Groove, the Rest and Reset.
So this is a way at looking at process. Creative, problem solving, productivity, ascertainment, etc.
I found it beautiful because of the scale it applies to. It’s a overarching theme, it’s a seasonal approach, a monthly, a weekly, a daily, even an hourly or subhourly. Despite what the working world tells us, sitting and attempting to accomplish something for 8-12 hours straight, 5 days in a row, is an incredibly inefficient way of doing things.
In the next month I’ve decided to dedicate myself to One thing: passing my national registry test for advanced EMT. And while I’m sure I’ll continue to dedicate time and energy to other projects or collaborations (my website, my coaching practice, writing, family, LIFE), I’m fixedly working to accomplishing this One thing over everything else. And by saying no to many other things, I’m finding myself more involved in this one thing, more captivated by it. So that’s my selection.
Clarity comes through understanding why this is worthwhile and how it’s important to life through my own shoes. In this case, it’s because completion is like blazing a new neural pathway. It’s not something that comes natural to me. I’m much more prone to start something and get through it enough to know it and then be swept off my feet by a new fascination and pursue it without even remembering what it was that interested me before. And as long as I keep written record of all this stuff, it’s actually worked fine for me because I can revisit things and complete as necessary (and now that I print this I realize that’s exactly what I’ve done with this registry test, I completed the class in May). Undoubtedly there are many, many things more fascinating and interesting to me that I even feel are more worthwhile, I’ve experienced enough to know that completing this test and thus finishing something is what creates those healthy neural pathways. I know that everything else I feel compelled to start from here on will be run through whatever neural pathways I am warmed up to, and I want to finish things. Good God I’m tired of being within eye sight of the finishing line and getting distracted by a fun looking trail on the way side. So clarity, in this case, is the goodness involved with completion.
Ah, the pocket, my absolute favorite part.
I say that because I relate so strongly to music, especially jazz. When you watch a group of jazz musicians playing, they’re all weaving their own needles into this beautiful duvet together, each sort of positioned, creating and allowing, improvising and supporting while one person steps into the pocket, flows through the music like a damn mermaid in a storm, and steps back out and into the groove, allowing someone else to access the pocket (although I’ve already received notice from musicians that more than one person can be in the pocket at once, that the greatest bands all entered the pocket together).
For those of us not playing the french horn or drums in our daily grind, the pocket is still available. It’s called other things, such as Flow state, mindlessness, oneness, or being in the zone. I like the pocket because I have played music and achieved that true FLOW state where you lose all sense of Time, Self, and anything other than the elements that matter most to the movement of the music. So getting in the pocket in even mundane activities is what makes an hour seem like a minute, an afternoon seem like deep breath, a sea seem like a sip.
That’s reason enough to get in the pocket, isn’t it?
But it’s also incredibly meditative.
Reading the works of great yogis or psychonauts, misfits or great leaders, you come across the experience of the pocket, in clear terms often different from the rest. The describe what it means to be what they are and it always sounds like some unreal state, an absolute certainty that service to the world, a mission they heard of in their sleep, or a great dream for unison was the most important thing to create and they quite naturally fell into the pocket, because it’s the natural state of accomplishment. Ghandi said, “It’s the action, not the fruit of the action that matters.” Martin Luther King, “The time is always right to do what is right.” (Such certainty, no?)
Think of the first accomplishments, they were essentially done by surviving. When our ancestors were silently walking through the woods, stalking the boar that would feed their starving families, there was no lack of attention in the present moment. There was absolute awareness of those factors critical to the hunt, thus, the pocket. The kill was the first accomplishment ever recorded in history, just look at the first art ever expressed. The cave paintings weren’t of a grand document or agreement between tribes, no, it was of a bunch of people standing around a bleeding animal, fists pumped in the air, dancing at the joy of survival, the first conscious accomplishment of man.
So the big difference now is that the western world has absolutely no daily threats to survival (although your ego may not agree when faced with someone who believes anything it doesn’t). We can drive to the grocery for food and there are no real lions baring their fangs at us. Being forced into the flow state, the pocket, is very uncommon.
Nonetheless, it’s the natural state of accomplishment and in order to access it these days we must choose to. Great men and women have dreams and when they put them above everything else the state of flow comes quite naturally because it is the neural pathway that has led us to success so frequently in the past, when success meant life or death. So when we sit and wonder how the incredibly successful people have come to be who they are, that is the only difference between us an them: they are choosing to be in the pocket.
It’s also a science. If you’re studying for a test that some part of you still isn’t all that stoked about, you’re not fully emerged, are you? If you’re writing a term paper but know your roommates are about to go to animal hour (3 for 1 drinks, don’t ask how I know), it’s hard to exactly lose yourself. There are many contributing factors, many of which I went over here.
Many say, “well I have no idea how to get there.” And that’s why Selection and Clarity come before the Pocket. It’s a process that works, trust me.
I’ll write another post about the Groove and Rest and Reset. I’ve run this post a leeetle lonngg and must stop it now. But these next parts are equally important. They are the dance after the kill, the tears after the wedding, the rain after the drought.
“…It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were.”
― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
KevinPosted at 21:35h, 08 November
Excellent article Will. I love how you call it ‘the pocket’, this is also what pilots call the flow-state in the cockpit.
In an age of increasing complexity, the flow-space must be sought amid the bewildering array of signals, no longer can the silent death of the hunt awaken it…
Perhaps we should become Hunters of Unconscious game.
Will HearnPosted at 17:31h, 30 November
I like the spunk Kevin. You’re right, our world has softened us both mentally and spiritually. There’s not really a NEED to be sharply aware of our environment, we’ve got rear view reverse cameras for that 😉
The FLOW genome project is doing a great job sharing methods of reaching flow.
Enrique PasionPosted at 06:26h, 30 July
This is a very insightful and compelling article and has a lot of viewpoints I do mostly unequivocally agree with. Thank you for sharing this.