Sunday, February 21, 2021

In The Zone

 I read the phrase in the morning paper a while ago, and it ignited a couple of things.

 One often hears athletes account for some spectacular play by saying they were "In the Zone."  I experienced it once playing third base in an IBM softball league.  One out, runner on first, clean-up hitter at bat.  As the batter swung, the zone happened. I saw the ball at impact. I knew the trajectory of the high line drive immediately, moved right and leaped, catching it at the edge of the webbing.  I landed and turned, seeing the alarm on the base runner’s face as he spun in slow-motion back toward first.  I had all the time in the world to make the throw ending the inning.  It never happened again.

'Bama third base Kelly Montalvo 2009

But The Zone isn’t reserved for sports.  Think about the arts.  When a writer puts pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and begins working, what is sometimes drudgery suddenly becomes a race to keep up with words that pour out.  Time is a non-entity.  The only thing in the world is the word, the connection of one to the next, and the next, and the next…  Knowing, without knowing, that the words are good, that they fit, that they make a story or a poem. 

Ponder the painter in The Zone, removing the blankness from a canvas to reveal a scene, a portrait, an abstraction, a slice of life, allowing the brush or pallet knife to do its work unencumbered by concerns about rightness, certain it is there.

I know a beautiful singer, songwriter who, on a break from a recording session, stepped outside to enjoy a few minutes respite.  She sat on the wall of a fountain that encircled the statue of a woman who gave the studio its name. With her mind and voice relaxed, lyrics wormed their way in and by the time the break was over she had a new song.  It is in my opinion one of the most creative tunes on the album.

I imagine sculptors, crafters, laborers, teachers; people of all occupations and vocations sometimes feel The Zone.  It happens when the work becomes all-consuming, when nothing exists but the material and its manipulation by whatever tool fits to make it complete.

Think about the time(s) when a project you worked on consumed you to the point that all your energy focused on it.  When you finally took a breath and looked up, hours had passed without you feeling them go.

Did you ever wonder how a surgical team can work for seven, eight, or more hours to save a life?  I have to believe they are “In The Zone.”

Until next time,