In the Zone

by Ted Gargiulo — For years, this wordsmith has wrestled against inertia, apathy and inattentiveness, searching for a way to jumpstart the creative process. Happily, with the help of a pharmaceutical catalyst, I’ve been able to enter that land of heart’s desire writers call “The Zone.” But there’s a downside. Having finally entered this elusive Zone, I’m constantly having to wrench myself from its lure whenever people and obligations summon me away. It now takes as much will power to abort the program as it once took to initiate it.??Imagine: You commit yourself to a vision, an assignment you’re under no contractual obligation to fulfill. You muster the discipline to make said vision an all-consuming force in your agenda—a crucial leap of faith that separates passion from humdrum compliance (which is all the world expects of you). However, once you decide that you’re beyond mindless dabbling, the moment you step outside the veil of indifference and tell yourself that your calling truly matters, you’re no longer a reasonable person.

Herein lies the conundrum: ?………a) The world won’t leave you alone long enough to finish what you started; ?………b) The project, once started, won’t leave you in peace until you finish it.??Logic dictates that if you can’t learn to pop up and switch gears every time life cracks its whip, you’ll eventually drive yourself and everyone else crazy. How, then, does a presumably “sane” person resolve this dilemma? By inverting the very rationale used to launch his quest in the first place. He persuades himself that his brainchild really ISN’T so urgent after all. That the world WON’T end if he puts his creation on hold a while longer.

Question: If he lets himself off the hook today, what happens tomorrow?  How does one rekindle enthusiasm for a project he’s stopped believing in?  At what point does something that didn’t matter yesterday suddenly become important again today?  This much I know:
a) Any project that isn’t important enough to drive me crazy when I put it down isn’t worth starting;?b) A project not worth starting isn’t worth caring about;?c) To willingly labor on a project I don’t care about makes no freaking sense;?d) Failing to complete a project I DO care about is a horrific waste of talent and emotion;?e) The longer I forego what I love, the more likely I am to lose interest in it altogether;?f) The less I miss something = the less I love it = the less I believe in it = the less anything matters.

If there’s a middle ground, it lies in one’s ability to toggle his convictions on-again / off-again, indefinitely: “What I’m doing matters / DOESN’T matter…is important / ISN’T important.”  Like clicking a TV remote. This, our behaviorists and pop psychologists would have us believe, is how a “rational” individual in today’s society manages his emotions. “Be all that you can be,” they say. “But don’t go overboard.” Or some such convoluted horse poop. 

Curious, how many writers and creative artists more dedicated than myself have defied protocol and excelled in their fields—while this conflicted neurotic remains stalled on life’s tarmac, poised on the cusp of achievement, waiting for clearance. That, dear reader, describes the whole tragi-comical paradox in a nutshell. 

Welcome to my Zone!

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