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The Flow Channel as Art—and Life

Updated: Dec 5, 2019

by Chavi Parks


When I think of flow, I envision a special kind of concentration. One that doesn’t allow distractions to enter your mind. The kind of focus that allows your actions to become second nature as what you experience distorts time and makes you shut out everything around you except what will help you meet your goal. That’s the kind of concentration I learned when I transitioned to a project-based learning school in my junior year of high school.


There, I had the kind of freedom that makes people want to do more. In my old school, I tried virtually everything from welding to graphic design, but there was nothing that I was passionate about except track and field and student council. I figured I would either be in the Olympics or politics. My new school forced me to figure out what I was really interested in. The school gave me the gift of knowing what it was like to create something. I learned that I loved creating things, coming up with crazy big ideas.

As I transitioned to college, I realized that I wanted to own my own business, and am considering many possibilities from the things I care about.

So to me, a beam of light seems to be the best imagery to represent the properties of flow. The lighthouse is a reflection of guidance, the kind I got at the new school, and I wanted to show this through the distinct difference in color between the light and the rest of the scenery. The light cuts through the sky just as being in a state of flow cuts through both anxiety and boredom.


To me, the most interesting piece of symbolism is the boat. There's something scary about stagnancy, which the boat represents by floating in the sea of boredom. There's little mental growth or progress after you reach the point of being more skilled than the challenge you face. The boat can be interpreted as an individual going through the mundane activities of life. It’s up to us to make them interesting.

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21 Comments


I enjoyed seeing your version of the flow through art. I also moved in high school, so I am able to connect with you. Being able to find what makes you happy is important important to remember in life.

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This is a great example of flow! I liked that the author added the depiction of the beam of light and the boat. This article reminds me of my journey though my educational career from high school ( which had no flow) to college in my mid thirties and forties. College is where I discovered flow and it changed my academic experiences.

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Savanna Shelley
Savanna Shelley
Jun 05, 2023

The artwork is a great visual for how flow feels to you. I like that the x and y axes are labeled skill and challenge; this really puts flow into perspective. Getting into that flow state can not only break out of boredom, but also dispel some anxiety.

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Faith Nielsen
Faith Nielsen
Apr 07, 2023

I really enjoyed the visual depiction of flow in this post. In my personal experience, I can relate flow to singing and reading. I am certain these are not the only activities that have pushed me into a flow state, but they are the most consistent with it. In my youth, I had a dream to be a pop star. It’s not a unique dream for a 9 year old, but it was my passion. Now that I’ve gained more life experience, singing has been beneficial for my mental health.

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This is an amazing visual depiction of flow! The fact that it was incorporated into a graph is my favorite part. I recently watched The Role of Flow in a Life Well-Lived, and this is where I learned about the importance of experiencing a challenge in order to enter flow. It was one of my biggest take aways, so I'm glad it was included in this piece. I also like how the areas were divided up and represented to compare one's level of skill with the level of challenge they experience.

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