“In the Zone”: Isak Dinesen’s Home 12

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I recently finished another book downloaded to my Kindle called Yoga for People that Can’t Be Bothered to Do It by a guy named Geoff Dyer. It is a collection of travel stories and it is a pretty good read.

One of the concepts he talks about is “being in the zone,” which I had previously only thought of in sports terms before. The Zone in sports is when an athlete has a feeling of peace or confidence that manifests itself with a feeling that he or she simply cannot be beaten on that day. You here quotes from baseball hitters along the lines of “the ball looked like a beach ball coming at me — I couldn’t miss it.” Or basketball players saying that the defenders seemed to be locked in concrete or the basket seemed 5 feet across. Or a golfer that can just seem to hit every shot exactly as they imagine in their head before they swing.

It happened to me a few times in days long, long go by when I actually played sports (and my body was less of a wreck than it is now), but you can never experience that feeling too many times. In recent years, it has happened to me at a poker table some — it is as if I can actually see the cards that my opponents have.

Dyer used it in a context that I had never thought of before, in a travel sense. I forget where he said he felt it (yea, I take great notes — there will be a LOT of research needed during the book writing process), but the sense of when he was talking about the zone was similar to how I felt playing sports or poker.

It is a feeling of sublime peace. As if all of the unnecessary distractions in life completely go away. It is truly one of the greatest and most euphoric feelings I have ever experience. Set me to thinking. I’ve now been to 44 countries on this trip. Done a variety of things. Has anything or any place on the trip rose to that level for me?Isak Dinesen’s Home, nairobi kenya, front entrance of out of africa house And I realized that there was a place where I did feel that way. The house that Isak Dinesen, a.k.a. Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke, lived in for years outside of Nairobi, Kenya.

You probably recognize the picture of the house. It is the same one made famous by the movie Out of Africa staring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. The inside of the house is different than the movie, but the exterior shots were basically accurate. I just felt very at ease there — as if I could have lived there for quite some time. Immediately at ease with the place. And the vibe that came from it. I walked through the inside a few times.

The room she wrote in was in the front of the house. Big desk. Large room. So perfect for its purpose. Walked around the grounds lazily for a few hours. I was in the zone. I doubt hardly anyone I know would share that expression for that particular place, but to each his or her own. I’m curious — have you felt that way about a place or an activity on the road?? I’d love to hear yours. Thanks, Michael

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About Michael Hodson

I’m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all.

12 thoughts on ““In the Zone”: Isak Dinesen’s Home

  • spunkygirlmonologues

    I've actually felt "in the zone" while traveling a few times. I love it. I'm a work-a-holic at home and I would check emails all the time from home, dream of work etc. But this past June when I drove to Vancouver for a week my mind blanked. I was in a blissful travel zone. I didn't think about work or check emails. I was so happy. Colours were brighter, smells sweeter, the whole thing.

  • Stephanie

    Hmm this is a good question, and a tough one. I think part of me always feels more in the zone when I'm traveling then when I'm at home. I'm more energetic, I'm more curious about the world around me. I'm more outgoing and adventurous. I explore so much more than I do when I'm at home. That's part of what drives me to travel- I really like my travel self a whole lot better.

  • Shawn

    Nuts, all these years I thought "the zone" was just a morning radio sports show with too many sound effects. Live and learn I guess.I sort of think of what you're describing as when a place just clicks for me. When I just seem to "get it" and fit in with how a city/country/pub/town feels and works. When you don't even think to bitch about how there is better beer at home and you just happily live your life. I also think a lot of travelers try and fake "the zone". They want so badly to convince themselves that they're loving their "carton wine and cheetos picnic by the slug museum" that they play it up. They're so busy telling everyone how they could just live there forever and that we'll have to drag them home in chains, etc etc. Otherwise someone will think they're a bad traveler.

  • Adam

    Australia really clicked for me and that's why I've made it such a big part of my itinerary. Of course, things change, so we'll see how I fit back into it once I get there.

  • Angie

    Yep, I had a "zone" moment. In Santo Domingo, Spain, in what was basically a shed. After walking many miles that day, showering, washing out my clothes in the outdoor sinks, I sat down at a table in a crude, makeshift kitchen in the refugio. I was peeling an orange, reading Heminway, and just watching a fly land on the table in the midst of a drop of juice that had just fallen from my orange onto the table. I was completely at peace and completely in the moment, in total observation of the fly, the peeling of the orange, the sun coming in the glassless window. One of the great moments of my life.

  • Scott

    I was in the zone often during my year of RTW travel. Took some practice to get there during the first few months because I was so used to having work or other things on my mind, but once I let go of everything and got in flow with what I love most–traveling–I was able to do get in the zone without thinking about it. You're right, it's a euphoric, peaceful feeling. Completely in the moment. I love it.

  • RamblingTart

    I love this. 🙂 Yes, I've had a few moments like that: living on a boat in Russia, driving through Albania, sitting on a terrace in Italy. That sudden, deep, all-is-well-with-the-world moment that is rare and so precious. 🙂

  • Odysseus

    Prague was strangely a place that felt like home to me from the first hour I arrived. The summer I spent there was golden. I felt like I was in a dream, like I was in love — which I was, just with a place instead of a person.

  • Federico

    I know that feeling, and have had several. Perhaps the first one was when I first backpacked in Costa Rica 8 years ago, as I was driving a rental car to surf Dominical, alone. I was at ease on my own, listening to Reggae music, enjoying the view.

  • Erica

    The north shore of Barbados. It is nothing like the rest of the island – where the Caribbean sea meets the rough Atlantic and creates this rugged, choppy ocean that captured my heart. There is a bench to look out over the cliff out into the ocean that I could have spent hours in.

  • DTravelsRound

    There are a few places I encountered like that in my trip. One was on a balcony in the middle of a national park in Extremadura, Spain. Another was sitting on the rooftop of a riad in Marrakesh. And, another was on the island of Solta in Croatia, an apartment I was renting that had been entirely crafted by the owners and meant to put people at ease and open them up to the beauty of what was around them. The Zone rocks!

  • Laura

    I haven’t visited Karen Blixen’s home in Kenya because, out of all the nonfiction works I’ve read about Africa, I never finished Out of Africa. But, I have had plenty of those ‘in the zone’ moments while traveling, my most prominent probably being the Okavango Delta.

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