A time when I was able to achieve flow was, ironically in a place where flow seemed impossible for me; the Marines. It was during a sandstorm in Kuwait while I was on watch. The entirety of the Marine Corps Experience was an anxious, painful mess for me. Some people like it. Some people spend their whole lives there. It wasn't for me, but I was stuck there until my 4 years were up. In any case, flow escaped me the majority of the time, even though pain was a regular occurance. However, during that sandstorm, my rifle began to feel different, like it was a part of my body. I could feel into the metal and plastic as if it were one of my limbs. The feeling shocked me deeply, and afterwards I was able to fire my rifle better. Ironically, my enlistment was almost over, and my failures had already done enough damage to any chances that this miraculous moment could make a true rifleman out of me. Lately, I've been reflecting back and realizing that the military was a kind of cooperative play. There were rules, and a fake identity, which was your rank. It wasn't real. It was all a game. It was a game to be taken seriously, and you were never to break character or even mention that this was indeed a game. So, it was also a kind of imaginative and pretend play. The enemy, during training, was always imaginary. The wargames we were involved in were purely for pretend. This idea was that if we played the imaginary war, the real one would be easy. Even the war itself was filled with Transformative and Object Play. We had our rifles. We had our Tanks. We had a purpose. It was play, all of it. People died, and we still got revved up like it was a football game.
So, I was unable to achieve flow during the majority of my tour in the Marines, but something kinked loose after years playing those silly wargames over and over. I felt the flow through my rifle, which was a source of pain that felt wholesome and good, even if for only, truly, that one moment in the sandstorm.