I’ve been talking about Nick Smith and Flow quite a bit. In his Little Book of Flow which is downloadable for free at http://www.life2point0.com/2006/06/the_little_book.html Nick tells a story about a trip to Silverstone race track and an experience of ‘flow’ whilst racing a single seater racing car.
My story won’t be nearly as good if you haven’t read Nick’s account first, but to summarise, Nick describes an experience where he became ill and was on the edge of passing out as he raced a very powerful single seater race car round the circuit. Perhaps because his judgement was impaired by his illness, rather than stop the car and spoil the experience for his family, he continues to race and, in this strange state of body and mind, allows his inner self, unrestricted by his conscious mind to take control of the car. Nick not only wins the race, but beats the lap record!
Whilst I was reading this account, my wife, who had not read it, was booking me a single seater racing experience at Silverstone! The same cars, the same track, the same experience as Nick.
She booked it for last weekend, 3 days after I had met Nick for the first time and heard him tell the same story at the Welsh Public Service Summer School.
Anyway, the Journey to Silverstone was lovely. Beautiful weather and scenery, - and I was very excited; about to do something I’d never done before – and something that was completely different from a normal me-type activity, - yet it had a real fit with my current reading and learning!
Well, I felt fine. I went through my basic training and got myself strapped into the car. The engine started with a roar and, getting to grips with an unforgiving clutch, I made a jerky and hesitant start. However, a few laps behind the safety car was enough to overcome this and to get to grips with 0 to 60 in less than 4 seconds. Then, as the safety car peeled off into the pits I was racing – and in the lead! (That's me in the photo above). Within a couple of laps two cars had shot passed me and I realised I was doing OK, but not really ‘pushing the envelope’. I started to relax, I eased my grip on the wheel and the gear shift, - I went faster. I allowed my conscious mind to take a back seat and to observe rather than control. I lapped the back-markers. I noticed myself breaking later into the corners and accelerating earlier out of them. I felt totally in control and totally out of control at the same time. I felt no fear, but a real sense of calm and happiness. I was going fast. I was working my way past the other cars to the front. Ahead of me, as the race drew towards a close, I saw the car I had first lapped. Of course I would get passed it again, and that would give me a clear run to the chequered flag. With no worry, no strain – and no particular thought, I felt my car accelerate underneath me and I shot passed – even though he was accelerating hard too. I prepared for the next corner without worrying my conscious mind with the details. Breaking hard, I locked the wheels and squealing and screeching (the car not me) I spun through the safety cones, off the track and out of the race!
So, the moral of this story is to make sure to go with your own flow – don’t try to borrow someone else’s!