The 5:45 Zone

24 03 2009

The 5:45 Zone


Yesterday, at the gym, the image above caught my eye (in the end, I took a photo of it to put on here).

I’ve noticed it before. The last couple of times I’ve noticed it, the moment has gone something like this: while working out in the weights area and looking out through the glass door, I suddenly spot the clock on the wall. For two seconds, a “micro-wave” of need-to-know urgency rushes through my mind as I realise I don’t know what time it is, and read the clock to update myself. This, however, is promptly followed by an equally strong wave of annoyance as I realise, yet again, that the clock’s time of 5:45pm has been the same for the last three weeks. The clock has stopped. And now I don’t know the time! What if I’ve been here for too long?? Mild state of panic or stress sets in…


Being the forgetful, slightly absent-minded type, this four second high-low process has happened to me more than once. When it occurred again yesterday, I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. Why do I so badly need to know the time? Why do I feel almost guilty for having let a few minutes slip away on me without my being consciously aware of them? I am at the gym after all – the whole idea is to come for at least an hour, work out, have a swim and then a spa. And relax. I couldn’t help but laugh, because I realised that perhaps it might just be a good thing not to know the time for once. And perhaps it was a good thing that quite some time had passed (at least 20-30 minutes) before I noticed and suffered the compulsion to check the clock. The more I thought about this (while pushing weights), the more I realised how important this “time vacuum” block is to me, in ensuring that I finish the day with the feeling of having “done something” worthwhile and invested in myself. I now think of it as my “5:45 zone”.


What is your 5:45 zone? The place or activity may be different for each of us, but we all have one. The 5:45 zone. It’s the place you can go, the space you can be in, for a while, where all the pressures, plans, deadlines, expectations and concerns of the day fade away, and you are left alone. It’s a place of solitude, away from pressures and other people – mentally, if not physically (you may have other people around you at a gym or cafe, but the important thing is that you go there alone). It’s a place of escape. You are free to relax and let your mind wander as it pleases. You are free to “zone out” without needing to worry that you’ve missed an important point in a meeting, forgotten to return a phone call or reply to an email, or fallen short in productivity (or in some other way). Note: it does NOT include TV, movies, or surfing the internet!


For me, I’ve realised that this space is at the gym. The competition with myself to push harder, to push heavier, to do just one more set. The fiery burning sensation of that last repetition, then the elation that comes when I know I did ONE more than I thought I could. It consumes me so completely – I am so immersed in what I am doing – that I am not worrying about or planning anything else. So much so, that 20 minutes and more can go past, without me even noticing or keeping track of it. When I do get the sudden thought-interruption asking me “what time is it”, I can’t check, because the clock on the wall still says 5:45, just like yesterday, the day before, and the day before that. Time has stopped, for me. And once I get past the initial annoyance regarding that fact, I realise I don’t mind one bit. I am free.


The 5:45 zone. What is it, for you? A long walk? Playing a musical instrument? Painting? Going to the beach alone with your iPod, to sit on a rocky cliff or the wharf and look at the ocean? Going to a cafe or bar to sit and write? Cooking? Art? Surfing? Running? Whatever it is, you need to IDENTIFY it. And then, do more of it. You’ll be better off for it – more relaxed, more productive, happier, and more aware of yourself and what’s going on inside you, and in your life. Remember the movie “What Women Want”? My favourite scene in the whole movie is when Mel Gibson’s character, an advertising executive, presents an ad to Nike that his team has worked on for weeks. I love this ad. The video for the ad is in black and white, and shows a woman pounding the road in her shorts and running shoes. Nothing before her; nothing behind her. She is running. Alone. For me, it encapsulates the idea of the 5:45 zone. In the movie, Mel Gibson reads the voice-over script to his Nike advertising clients in a dark board-room, while the video is playing on a projector. The script is perfect (he wins the Nike account with it). It’s targeted at women, but the point applies to men just as much:


One with the Road.


You don’t stand in front of a mirror before a run

wondering what the road will think of your outfit.

You don’t have to listen to its jokes

and pretend they’re funny in order to run on it.

It would not be easier to run

if you dressed sexier.

The road doesn’t notice

if you’re not wearing lipstick.

The road does not care how old you are.

You do not feel uncomfortable

because you make more money than the road.

And you can call on the road whenever you feel like it.

Whether it’s been a day, or even a couple of hours

since your last date.

The only thing the road cares about

is that you pay it a visit once in a while.




No games. Just sports.


The 5:45 zone. What’s yours?







One response

24 03 2009
mandy :)


You are one of the most amazing people i have come across in my life for you mind works exactly the same way as mine. We are thinkers we think so deep and so intensively that sometimes we end up questioning what was the source of making us think this way to begin with? life is so detailed and beautiful and i am positive that people are just way to busy to even have a 5.45 zone because they refuse to let themselves ZONE OUT.. STOP… TAKE A DEEP BREATH… AND FIND A HAPPY PLACE.. and appreciate how lucky we are to be blessed with having the experience of living in this crazy amazing world! by the way love your blogs very inspiring ! 🙂
Amanda k

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