Years ago, (seems like a lifetime now) I rolled in late-night to a bar called Whiskey Creek in Mammoth Lakes, California. It was a weeknight and the place was half empty, but the other half was all local: goggle tanned ski instructors, lift ops on their last dollar, off duty cat drivers, and bored, alcoholic wives of the idle rich scattered around the room. The band had just finished playing and I made the mistake of rolling up to the bar next to an older guy who had already been there too long. He turned, one hand on an old fashioned, looked me straight in the eye and before I could say hey, said, “I’m working out a way to put anyone in “the zone” any time they want.”
“Okay. Sounds good,” I said.
“No. No. It doesn’t sound good,” he said. “You don’t know even a sliver of what I’m talking about. You think you know, but there is no way you can comprehend the way this is going to change everything. You don’t even know what the zone is. You’ve heard of ‘being in the zone, but I’m talking about a whole different level of ‘the zone.’ Think about it. If everyone could be in the zone I’m talking about anything would be possible. Anything.”
I nodded in agreement and he still wanted to argue. “You’re not in a place where the information I’m developing is going to do any good at all. Screw it. I’m talking about ‘the zone.’”
Knowing an escape route was necessary I asked the bartender what time it was and turned to the zone guy and said, “I gotta get out of here. I have to be to work in four hours.”
As I slipped over to the stairs and started down I could here him still calling after me “the zone, man. The zone. You don’t even get it.”
I was reminded of this night a few weeks ago when I first heard about West of Jesus author Stephen Kotler’s new book, The Rise of Superman. But it wasn’t so much the book as the videos that Kotler and his team are using to promote it. They feature some of the biggest names in action sports: Danny Way, Travis Rice, surfer Ian Walsh, and freestyle MXer Robbie Maddison. All seem to be attempting to describe that “zone” feeling, only Kotler is calling it “flow.”
Is The Rise of Superman self-help for the action age? A secret weapon in the war of sports? The beginnings of a new adrenaline fueled cult ala Snowboarding To Nirvana? Or just a clever way to package and sell a collection of words lined up and printed on a page. Until we read the book these edits are all we have. . .