In a delightful restaurant in downtown Portland last night, my son reminded me of one of my personal stories. I was 17 and used to go to a roller rink. Bob was an amazing skater and everyone wanted to be his partner. Skating was his super power!
At the roller rink, he asked me to skate on a dance, and it was so romantic. I had on a cute little royal blue skating outfit, and was a so-so skater. Bob was an AMAZING partner, and led me around as though I was as good as he. In his arms I felt safe and guided to stay up, go backwards, and look elegant. When the lights were turned down and a twinkling ball above would spin with reflections you felt magical!
We skated together a few times, but the rink was an hour away, and it was hard for me to convince my parents to drive me. My mother liked Bob, and she suggested we invite him to come to our home for lunch. He lived in Wisconsin and I in Illinois, so it was a trip for him, but he liked me. I was excited and looked forward to seeing him for lunch! My friends would be excited for me when they saw this older elegant guy (he was 19).
Is This Your Roller Rink?
The day arrived and I saw his sporty car drive up and park in front of my house. When he stepped out of the car, I noticed that he walked with a strange swagger, and tripped on the curb. When he came up to the door and entered the house he was shy and fumbled, bumping into furniture and scared the dog. He didn’t seem to have the same confidence he had on the skating floor.
Watching him was embarrassing. He just didn’t look natural walking. My father was less impressed with his inability to speak and gave me a disapproving look.
What Happened to Bob?
Bob was fine in his environment. Take him out of it and he was a different person. His grace was obvious when he glided in the roller rink, but walking was tough for him.
My son remembered the story and said to me, “So, mom, what is your roller rink?”
“Hmmmm,” I replied. “I suppose my place is being present and deeply listening to people who feel they have not been heard. Just being compassionate and listening with heart.”
“Interesting,” he replied. “Does it make you wonder about what other people’s roller rinks are for them?”
“Yes, I wonder about where other people feel their best environment is for them.”
Then he asked Rich about his place. “What is your roller rink, Rich?”
“I’m not thinking so much of a roller rink. Probably more of a “field.” I think in terms of sports, so I could relate more to what is my field or the place I like to play and I’m good at it.”
“Ok, so what is your field?”
“Right now … it’s learning video. I’m so involved and excited about all the new things I am learning, that I’m at home with my skills and new challenges.”
Rich gave a response close to how Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi would have described “Flow.” He studied chess players, rock climbers, dancers, composers, etc., who dedicated hours and hours to their interest. He discovered that what kept them in flow or motivated was the amazing experience and quality of how they enjoyed what they were doing when they were involved with their chosen activity. They felt an optimal experience and were happy and in flow. (Click for Mihaly on The Secret to Happiness on Ted.)
Bob was in flow on the roller rink. He was a star! This was where he could be who he was and feel good about it. This was the place and experience where Bob shined!
My Question To You
Maybe we could all dig inside and outside and discover who we are through what we love. What is it that you love doing that is also challenging and engaging? What is your roller rink or your field?
My field is in training for creativity, communication, and personal development. Would you like to find out how it feels to be deeply listened to with a compassionate listener? Make an appointment with us and find out by calling 503-525-0595.