Tuesday, April 12, 2022

In The Zone

A theme I've had in the past week about writing is that if I have to try to write it's no good and this is true. One of the first readers of my work a decade ago said I wrote in the "stream of consciousness" way which I'm not really sure what that means because I prefer to call it "the zone"

Being "in the zone" is an all too used sports cliché but it holds true to what I do. I know this from the days I spent racing karts and being an instructor at a racing school. If you didn't know I was phenomenal behind the wheel but I did lack in one aspect and that was giving feedback to what the car or kart was doing. There was one day, a test day on my last day as a student at the Derek Daly Academy, in which the student is finally allowed to alter the setup. The chief instructor knew I was fast, I was one of the fastest students ever, so they didn't do minor changes because I requested freeing the car up so I could rotate it more in the corners. They did so and asked if I liked the changes and I said, "you made the changes" as they actually had gone the opposite way and made the car tighter. I apologize if you're unfamiliar with racing terminology; so what that means is the car would have a tendency to understeer as if you were to try and turn on a snowy road and the car continues straight. I didn't feel this change and my lap times remained constant with what they had done prior. The next session I was assured the setup would go back to a neutral feeling but as I peeled out of the pits the instructor turned to my dad and said, "there's no way Aaron is keeping that car on the track. We've made it as loose as possible so we'll see if he can adapt to that!"

The fifteen minute session went by and I turned lap after lap and came in and I was puzzled at the shocked look on my dad's and instructor's faces and I thought I had done something seriously wrong. Jeff, the instructor, leaned into the cockpit and asked, "notice anything wrong with the car?" to which I responded, "not really, I was .2 quicker that time." to which he turned around and shook his head.

In the debrief after it all I was asked if I could feel the difference in the handling and I said, "I think I did but I don't think when I drive I just do and I change my style that I need to drive by just knowing without knowing. I can't really explain it." This is an excellent skill to have as a driver and maybe had my racing career had panned out I'd have developed that sense of being able to think while driving instead of just being blistering fast (last time I brag on myself, I promise... I think) but what I think I surely was experiencing behind the wheel was this zone thing and this is the same thing, the exact same thing I experience when writing and now presenting.

However, where this is most prominent, is in writing as, I have mentioned a time or two, if I have to think about the words I'm writing and put the mental effort to think of where I want my words to lead I am lost. I don't know if this has any connection with Asperger's at all and if it does I think that whatever it is simply is amplified a bit, but there is something here. Now, whether I simply had the ability to do this or if racing in my youth trained my brain to be able to ascertain this zone is probably up for debate, but myself, I'm going to say this zone very much exists, cliché or not, and that racing helped me train to be a writer. Odd connection, really, isn't it? Even more so when my words as I realized I wanted my mission in life to raise awareness and understanding of the autism spectrum was, "there's a new race now" and as it would seem I've never quit racing.

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