I wake today becalmed. Our bed has turned into the Kon-Tiki raft. I say OUR bed but for the past twenty three days it’s been MY bed. By train, boat and bus, Dawn has been re-discovering Italy, Greece and the joys of solo travel.
I’m on a different trip. As I surface from sleep all the podcasts I’ve been listening to, the YouTube neuroscience movies and the pop-science blogs have woven themselves into a single techno tapestry. There’s a tickle in my pineal gland. If I keep still I might just be about to understand something.
Lying here I’m not sure where I start and that last Jason Silva ‘Shots of Awe’ video ends. “Flow is found at the intersection of discipline and surrender”. Well, I’ve had no choice but to surrender, I’ve had man flu for three days and maybe one too many max-strength Lem-sips.
As a budding artist and a teenager longing for adventure, Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki expedition fascinated me. Balsa wood. Show me a boy who grew up in the 60s making model boats and planes and I’ll show you a contemporary elder whose eyes are glazing over at the very mention of it. I never wanted that book to end. Stripped to the waist Thor Heyerdahl and his nautical team crewed their balsa wood craft across the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Polynesian Islands where they didn’t just sail into port, they smashed triumphantly into a reef. A trip of five thousand miles following the currents and winds. The expedition was designed to demonstrate that ancient people could have made long sea voyages, creating contacts between separate cultures, adding weight to the diffusionist model of cultural development. Job done.
Back to bed. Macro to micro. Propped up against my pillows now and sifting through my mental flash-drive I have a PowerPoint deck of Thor’s raft. He varies the weaves of the mats and partitions, knowing they’ll only have sea and sky as visual stimulation for many months. A floating night club of sorts, every floor having a different vibe. Not a one-shot Odeon, a high turnover multi-plex.
I’m mindful of this as Greta Thunberg is crossing the Atlantic on her stripped-down racing yacht right now. She’s on her own mission, with a similar sized crew, to demonstrate something new about how interconnected we all are.
As a species, going with the flow, we’ve discovered all sorts of things traversing the earth, and now we could all be flying high in our jumbo jets not paying attention to the currents at all. But, as Greta is messaging to us via mental semaphore from the middle of the Atlantic, let’s not get above ourselves guys.
In my talks I reference Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s research re: getting into a state of flow, when we’re naturally twice as productive and everything becomes easy. It interests me deeply as it not only helps jazz musicians with their improvisations, I believe being in that state helps us do the right thing for the planet.
I’m not a scientist though, I’m one of those pop-communicators, bringing everything back to my area of expertise, harmony and rhythm. So I tell my audiences, “The groove is found at the crossroads of discipline and surrender. And, if we’re to follow the ancient songs, what do we do at the crossroads? We get down on our knees. I’m not going to ask you to do that today though, I’ve done it for you many times so we can move on to the next stage together. However you got here today let’s forget about flying high for a moment. We’re going to stomp and dance on the earth right now as a proud, respectful tribe, on our very own sacred ground. And if your mind is suddenly saying, “No, NO!” don’t worry, that’s natural. Your soul knows what to do, it’s quietly saying yes. I guarantee it. I’ll count you in”.