Monday, March 21, 2011

Go with the Flow

Zuill Bailey; A Triple Threat

Oops, I missed a week.  (My goal is to attend at least one cultural event per week and write about it every Monday.)

I was on Spring Break, working on other projects, things that don't have anything to do with art and culture.  But before I drove 12 hours to visit my parents in Colorado, I attended the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra's performance on the 11th, "Colored by Bohemia."  Cellist Zuill Bailey was the soloist.  Everyone who saw and heard him play fell in love with Zuill, he was that beautiful and that talented.

So afterwards, I waited my turn after all the pretty women (and men) had their say, and eventually talked to Zuill myself.

I told him that it was nice to watch him play, and that I wondered how he felt when he played, since he was so obviously moved by the music himself.  Because I had just finished reading "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience" I was sure that he was in a flow experience while playing.

Here's where it gets a little strange.  Zuill told me that once he gets immersed in the music, he actually floats above himself and can watch himself playing.  HUH?

But that totally fits with flow.  Other people, in the book, say that their particular activities feel the same way.  They say "It felt like floating." It's when you have no concept of time, and your activity is appropriately challenging your self, and helps you achieve goals that innately make you happy.  It is purposeful work.

Zuill doesn't get there right away--he says it's like running.  The first two miles are awkward and hunkering, but then all of a sudden, it clicks. 

And so, my mini-psychology session over, I was delighted to discover that it's really true for people of all levels of skill.  When you are doing something you love, and continuing to grow, you can reach an almost meditative, spiritual state.

That it happens to be with music for some people is all the better for the rest of us civilians. 


  1. That's a great description of what flow is.... And yes, Zuill certainly can flow. I loved how he spoke about the cello as a voice, different from the piano which he said was more staccato....

    Nice post Elizabeth

    Will I see you at the FSO Gala??

  2. Thanks Chris! When did he say that about the piano and cello? Awesome way to put it.
    I WILL see you on Saturday!