"Got addicted to the dopamine of making them laugh, basically turned into a dope fiend just waiting to crash."
Lots of professional entertainers go crazy. Some commit suicide, some overdose on drugs, some have mental breakdowns and start doing really stupid things in public. Michael Jackson, Elvis, Kurt Cobain, Robin Williams, Chester of Linkin Park, Britney Spears, and Kanye West are some examples of entertainers who have went off the edge of sanity in an unhealthy manner. I'm not going to pretend I know anything about these people or that my abilities to entertain are even close to the level of these stars. But I do have something in common with these people, I love to enter creative trances.
When I'm trying to look cool on stage it doesn't work. When I'm trying to be funny it doesn't work. When I'm trying to impress people it doesn't work. The trance only happens when I surrender myself fully to the process and allow all expression to pour out through my mind, body, and soul. My best performances are a blur to me afterwards but I always remember one thing they had in common; I was going in and out of some sort of trance. Next to having passionate sex and snuggling with someone I love dearly, the creative trance is my favorite place in the universe.
Everything disappears, including myself. I'm not anxious about my problems. I'm not sad about my failures. I'm not thinking about anything. I'm simply accepting every single ounce of everything and allowing energy to flow through that open channel. It's heaven, it's nirvana, it's prayer, it's ecstasy, it's the greatest moment of my life and I'm never aware of it happening. If you are aware of the trance then you aren't in a trance. That moment you think "wow I'm really in the zone" is the moment after coming out of a trance.
This flow state is pure freedom and when harnessed and practiced it also becomes freedom for others to enjoy. Flow states help humanity transcend our individuality whether we are the ones engaged in the flow or witnessing it. This is why people play and watch sports. This is why people perform and witness performance. You temporarily forget about the suffering of your limited self because you are riding the unbounded flow of the universe being expressed through various mediums that interest you. Then after the flow journey is over our brain goes "holy shit that felt great, you should identify with that thing so it becomes a part of your decision making process so I can feel great again."
A state of flow can only be accessed when you are fully committed a process that is difficult or scary enough to require your full attention but not so difficult or scary that you can't be calm while you do it. As our threshold for difficulty and scariness increase we have to continue challenging our abilities in order to keep experiencing flow state. We keep up with our flow requirements by practicing new techniques or raising the stakes of the activity. Raising the stakes often means increasing the amount of money on the line, or the amount of people witnessing you, or the chances of you dying.
Look at surfers, cage fighters, and bull riders. These crazy mofos are up against some of the scariest things in the world and require huge amounts of skill and surrender to pull off professionally. Riding a massive wave that has the power to destroy your life, or trying to punch a spartan in the face while avoiding getting punched in the face, or riding an animal that wants to kill you, all while people watch and scream don't seem like very calm activities on the outside. The masters are the ones who can remain the most calm insde while doing the most difficult tasks under the riskiest stakes.
The flow state is addictive so they obsess over their craft because flow is the greatest feeling in the world. It's highly addictive for the flow warrior and can also be addictive for those witnessing it. This addiction isn't good or bad. It just comes down to awareness, intentions, and balance. We get to decide what kind of relationship we have with it. Flow state is an evolutionary trick to help us thrive and survive in this wild world. Good luck hunting a deer to feed your tribe if you never practice bow hunting and you tremble with fear every time you try to aim. Good luck mending the wound of an injured warrior if you've never practiced working with the tools and mindset needed to heal someone. Good luck building a home if you can't focus on carefully connecting the materials.
Flow is essential to human existence so our brain tells us to crave it by rewarding us with neuro pleasure to say "thanks, do that again please because this state will help us survive, thrive and pass on our genes."
This is why people in flow are attractive as friends or lovers. A deep biological piece of us says "omg this person can stay calm while doing difficult, risky things. They would be a great person to team up with or make babies with because I bet my chances of surviving and thriving will increase." In our modern world, mastering a flow state can often lead to money, status, power, and a lot of fun. This is attractive because these things increase our chances of having a safe, comfortable home with more than enough food to eat.
So we like being in flow and we like people who are in flow. The trade off is everyday life will feel boring and horrible in comparison to your flow states if you don't learn how to enjoy the simple things. We have to try and turn the simple aspects of life into flow states by being grateful and focussing on whatever the task at hand is. Even if if the task is just walking, breathing, or listening.
I believe that high performance flow warriors go crazy if they don't know how to enjoy life outside of their desired flow state. I struggle with this. I have a hard time focussing on a lot of things because my mind constantly craves highly engaging creative trances. This doesn't mean life is boring or people are boring it just means I allow myself to get bored by not making an effort to enjoy what is happening now.
If I don't actively practice gratitude and meditation my mind will start creating things. This is a gift when I harness it with discipline because I experience so much joy and connection through creativity. This is a curse if I don't practice the daily gratitude and meditation because I experience depression and anxiety if the creativity implodes on itself. This balance of creativity is simply giving and receiving. Am I allowing myself to receive/listen/witness as well as allowing myself to give/express/create. I love creating so I will keep creating authentically. But when I am not creating I will make an effort to receive life with grace and curiosity.
This dance gives me social anxiety because I often get bored in most conversations. I tend to enjoy conversations that involve imagination, curiosity, humor, chaos, and vulnerability. I love listening to passionate, creative people and I love listening to someone who is being completely honest. I often struggle with listening and connecting in the grey zone of predictable, watered down bla bla. When I try to be watered down I usually just feel awkward.
I know its not people's responsibility to meet my attention deficit needs. It's my responsibility to make an effort to genuinely listen and also not be afraid of expressing my truth in that moment. My creative and neurotic tendencies aren't good or bad. They are just tools I can use to help or destroy myself.
Continue reading the "Mental Breakdown" series.
All art on this page is by Skye Dreamur. Check out more of his creations!