The zone… When I get into the zone I’m insanely great at writing code. If you ask me to explain to you what is C++ I would not be able. I could not “say” a line of C++ code. But when I am in the zone I speak C++ fluently. The code becomes obvious. I can absorb a huge amount of parameters and make the code clean, smooth and efficient. This also happens when I write in English(which by extension is a special way of writing code).
This happens to every developer, writer, creator. It happens to you in a different kind of art. It could painting, writing, leading your team, accounting, running… you have your art and I’m sure you see what I mean.
When you reach the zone, there is no limit. Your art does not matter actually. You navigate, in an almost meditative state, higher than any of your art’s technical aspects. Your art becomes artless. Your art techniques becomes pointless. It gets done by itself, you are not working on it, you become the art. The product… well it’s just a product.
This is a concept that is largely explained in Zen in the art of archery. In this book Eugen Herrigel talks about his experience as practicing archery in Japan and how he became detached from the technique. The bow, arrow and target didn’t matter anymore. To simplify it to a pop culture analogy: think of it as Luke Skywalker shooting the Death Star with his eyes closed. The real target for the archer is himself. He “hits” himself. After all, aiming at a target is pointless. The arrow hits the target… big deal! But what does it mean?
If you think of your art. What is the ultimate purpose? Once you have reached your goal, nothing really happens except if you were changed in the process. Your art is you not what you do. But for that you have to reach the zone at some point.
It’s even difficult to put into words. Because how can I define that I’m the art when I write? The text seems to be the art but actually it is just me and a laptop in a special moment in a special place where everything is aligned so I can deliver this. That is what matters.
Now how could we extend this state of clarity? Is there a way to let go and be detached that life becomes the artless art? Can we live entirely in this mental state.
Two days ago I read this article about what people regret just before they die. This article mentions the “phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives”. Probably because there is no goal anymore, no need to act and everything gets detached. The art of life becomes literally artless.
I don’t really understand what it would be.
For now I just continue to write and I stay in the zone… for one more second and then another one until this gets published.