Never even remotely sports-minded I’ve nevertheless noticed that the best amongst athletes are people who are, as the pyschologists would have it, “in the zone”. There’s an unmistakeable Presence about sporting people who are fully focused: Jessica Ennis-Hill. Mo Farah.
Or on stage and screen: Dame Judi Dench has it – her presence felt in a crowded room. A lone Edward Fox fills an empty stage. And in the wider public life: Pope Francis. The Dalai Lama. HM the Queen. In graceful flow, fully occupying their space, these people are frequently seen smiling. Unmistakeably alive, buzzing, energising, giving. We take notice.
Just back from rowing at the gym – more to do with time-of-life necessity than with any love for sport – I have a smile on my face, fully present. The rower’s a good place for just being, for contemplation, for the lithe, smooth movements of endorphins-encouraged fully-physical flow – a kind of “being plugged into” the energy shared by other focused people, there, and in the know. Yes. Smiling. Home in the zone. Communion.