The fire in your belly, your passion and zest for life, you most likely stumbled upon. In the movies, new couples accidentally bump into each other. Coffees in hand, rushing out of the cafe they collide and fall in love. Now, this might be corny. But we often bump into our passions. A chance encounter, reading something, meeting someone, all can ignite a new enthusiasm. Deep passions are often planted in childhood. Children are naturally curious and want to try new things.
On Saturday I chanced upon the Meridian Drum Corps in Bournemouth square. I was lucky enough to get to meet one of band leaders, and the children. They were all very enthusiastic and keen to talk about their passion for the band. When I asked them what they loved about playing together they told me: "It makes me happy." "Its calming, because you have to concentrate to get it right." As I listened to them I was struck by how relaxed and focused they looked. They were in 'the flow state', as the Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly would. say This warm-hearted scholar studied some of the 'happiest' people in the world, and then explored what they had in common. He discovered that all happy people regularly place themselves in states of flow. "Flow is being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz." Athletes, chess champions, dancers, artists all regularly access this flow. But each of us, in our daily lives has the opportunity to also "flow". My favourite example from his book concerns an Italian shop keeper. Signor Orsini loves his family business, tucked away in the winding streets of Naples. One day he has a pair of antique wooden angel figures to sell. A wealthy American woman walks in. She asks how much the figures are and Signor Orsini quotes an extravagantly high price. The woman immediately agrees to the price and gets out her travelers cheques. Whereupon the shop keeper says, "No, sinora, I am sorry but I cannot sell you those angels." The bemused woman leaves the shop. When asked about this Signor Orsini responded: "If I were starving, I would have taken her money. But since I am not, why should I make a deal that isn't any fun? I enjoy the clash of wits involved in bargaining, when two persons try to outdo each other with ruses and eloquence. She didn't even flinch. She didn't know any better. She didn't pay me the respect of assuming that I was going to try and take advantage of her. If I had sold those pieces to that woman at that ridiculous price, I would have felt cheated."
Often a chance encounter may sow the seed for a new passion. But it takes hard work and commitment to keep that fire burning. Whatever you do that brings you into, or close to a flow state, is precious. Maybe your greatest treasure. The young members of the Meridian Drum Corps are fortunate to have found something that they love. They have played in the Hamleys' parade, in Paris, and are performing in Florida this year. Hopefully this will motivate them to practice and put in the hard work necessary. But I suspect that their biggest motivation will simply be that playing makes them happy.