The Zone

Is anyone else having trouble focusing these days? I’m embarrassed to admit how many lists I’ve made in the past 6 months (longer, really) and the stacks of books, notes, and papers I keep moving from one area of my home to another. While this “organization strategy” isn’t new for me, it seems magnified in these unpredictable pandemic times. I cherish the times when I can access a space that I’ll refer to as “the zone”. I’m brought back to a semester in college when my studio instructor encouraged us to wholeheartedly embrace our work. I’m paraphrasing here, but I seem to remember it like this: Don’t think, just do. He encouraged us to become so immersed in our designs that we felt a compulsion to make and create without pausing to analyze. (Sidenote: I often think about whether or not that’s what he actually said, but I’ve managed to store the memory like this, so let’s roll with it. I’m sure I’ll talk about memories again soon. The amount of in progress / unpublished blog posts is also…. hefty, but unsurprising. Life of Shana.)

I think my classmates and I looked at each other when our instructor said this, and maybe even rolled our eyes. How is that even possible? we thought. Shouldn’t we be thinking and being intentional? What is he even talking about?

Months later, one of my many late nights in studio, I remember working on a study model or drawing (of what, I have no idea, but that’s not important to the story) and just creating version after version, trying to execute my concept to the best of my abilities, totally in it. Don’t think, just do. Yes, this is it! This is what he meant!! I looked around, wanting to share this euphoria, but realizing it was all inside me. It was my moment of connection, and to share it would feel inauthentic. (Remember, I like being authentic.) So I smiled, and probably turned up the volume on my music, and kept going, feeling proud and feeling like me.

I paused while writing to take a photo of one of the stacks sitting next to me right now. I know it’s easier to store digital notes, but at heart, I’m all analog, and I’ll continue to use pencil and paper FOREVER.

It’s hard to access this don’t think, just do feeling. It’s not about being self-centered, it’s not about ignoring others, but it’s being in the zone. For me, my hands move, whether it’s typing or drawing or knitting or creating something else, and I just feel compelled to make something that’s inside me. I wish I could access it on demand, but because I can’t, it’s even more special when it comes together. I’m not even sure I’ve explained it that well here, but I tried.

Don’t think, just do. Find your place. And if and when you do, smile your smile and know that you’ve got this, whatever the heck it is.

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