An Odd Thing Happened...
... when I was in third grade math class: I was handed a sheet of arithmetic problems to solve. There were maybe 20 problems on the page and we were given the remainder of the class to complete them. I don't remember how much time remained in the class, I remember I finished working on the problems before my classmates.
That wasn't the odd part.
The odd part was that I started working on the first problem, concentrating pretty hard. I worked the sum and moved to the next problem, and as I did the world around me faded. By "faded" I mean it was as if someone turned the volume on the world down, and then adjusted the brightness and contrast settings. It was similar to Kevin Costner's character in the movie For The Love of The Game. He would stand on the pitcher's mound and say "Clear the mechanism," and the volume of the crowd noise dropped to a whisper. For me, everything went away - not just sounds, but visuals too: It was just me and the math. As soon as I completed the sheet of problems, the rest of the world came back.
The focus and intensity of that moment was exhilirating. There must have been endorphins involved, because I felt great.
Those moments of intense mental production have continued throughout my life. Each time it feels the same, and each time I accomplish a lot of work quickly. I refer to this as "being in the zone."
The Other Side
There's a downside though. After a half-day or so of intense coding "in the zone," I cannot talk. I want to talk, but I cannot string together enough words to make a sentence. Many people have heard me present at events like Code Camps, SQL Saturdays, and the PASS Summit. They find it hard to believe I ever experience difficulty communicating.
With a few close friends, I've shared this odd thing that happens to me. Initially they look at me like I'm nuts. That is, until they've worked with me on some mentally challenging endeavor. After that, they concur - my brain works in odd ways.
But you already knew that - you read this blog!