Being in the zone

Happy belated Thanksgiving! Hope you had your fair share of turkey and fixins and of course, family dramas; b/c what would a holiday be without some sinfully delicious bickering and inspired choice of sig-Os on the side?

Back at school, I’m in a new trimester — new schedule, new classmates and the like. On top of culinary labs, I’m taking a couple classes to fulfill my academic requirements as well.

I’ve also been thinking about coming up with a more specific focus for this blog. While I enjoy the open-air nature of it, I feel like the possibilities sometimes drown out the inspiration. As I move forward in culinary school, I’m hoping I’m always one step closer to discovering those key ingredients–the herbs and spices, techniques and nuggets of knowledge that get me giddy–the elements that will help shape both this blog and my culinary career.

One important thing I’ve learned so far is this: I love cooking. As in the physical act of it. I haven’t developed a full-blown passion for certain flavors or ingredients, let alone regions or cuisines. But part of what I love about cooking is being “in the zone”: the intense focus and the feeling that nothing else seems to exist. Perhaps you’ve entered it yourself while playing piano or soccer, practicing yoga, writing an essay or story. It’s that state of being so utterly absorbed in doing something to the point that you lose your awareness of it, along with your sense of self, time and your surroundings. L reminded me that it sounded a lot like “flow,” a positive psychology concept first proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. In an interview, he describes flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”[9] 

That is exactly how I feel a lot of the time when I’m cooking. It’s also when I feel my happiest and most creative. I’m confident my interests in flavors, ingredients, regions and cuisines will reveal themselves in time, and I’m certain that continuing to cook is the best way to ensure their full expression. In the meantime, I’m cooking because that’s when I feel most alive.

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