First, thank you for your patience while I indulged my Bad Non-Blogging Self and finished some projects. I did not, as some have surmised, enter the Zone and fall asleep in the poppy field—and I hereby commit to blogging every Thursday morning. Many thanks to those of you who have prodded me.
WHY GO THERE?
The Zone sounds great. When athletes and musicians perform in the Zone, people mark them as extraordinary, even geniuses. They’re out on a stage or field, exhibiting their super-ness for all to see, going beyond where mere humans can go.
But what about the rest of us? Is the Zone possible, or even advisable, for those of us who sit quietly at our computers and must also deal with deadlines, sick cats, children, malware, spouses, automotive transmissions, and earning a living? And does the Zone even count if nobody sees us do it?
As any reporter or copywriter will tell you, we don’t need the Zone in order to write—and the last thing we want is another “should.”
For me, the only reason to seek out the Zone is to feel that spark of the universal or divine within me. That’s embarrassing to say, but it’s true. When I touch the Zone, I feel both lifted and disappeared. I’m not there at all, but I’m more there than at any other moment in the day. I know in my bones that there is something way, way beyond what I usually experience with my walk-around self, and that I can get at it.
WHAT IS IT?
Nobody really knows what the Zone is, and it seems to be a little different for everyone. As with most things mystical and semi-mystical, we can only point to it. We can’t use words to define it without losing its essence.
That said, there are some common characteristics. We all know the feeling of being completely focused, out of time and space, thoroughly involved in what we’re doing, incredibly productive, and writing almost as if something or someone else were doing the work for us. It’s great fun, and fantastically invigorating.
In Mind Over Water (Houghton Mifflin, 1998), champion rower Craig Lambert describes the Zone as “swing”: “Rowers have a word for this frictionless state: swing…Recall the pure joy of riding on a back yard swing: an easy cycle of motion, the momentum coming from the swing itself. The swing carries us; we do not force it…We are not so much swinging as being swung.”
I believe that anything that makes life more fun and more elevated is worth pursuing. There are no one-size-fits-all answers when it comes to the Zone. What works best is to keep paying attention to what it is for you, and keep notice the best way for you to get there.
The Zone isn’t for special people, or super-talented people, or even good people. It’s for all of us. It is our birthright, if we take a little time to master using it. I believe that each of us has something to give—and that when we bring what we love into the world and share it with others, we are living as our highest selves.
What is the Zone like for you, and you do you get there?
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