Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 176: Passion or Obsession?

"Cure for an obsession: get another one." ~Mason Cooley, literary professor 
One of the things I have increasingly noticed at my age is how easily it seems for people to take something they are really, really interested in, enjoy, and yes, maybe even love, and become obsessive (or, as I say OCD) about it.

It is all they talk about, all they do, and they are so one-tracked and obsessed with it, that they don't even see that: 1) other people do not like said "passion"; 2) other people are no longer listening when they talk about it or do not see their body language indicating this; or 3) they have actually started to make other people dislike or resent it, and want nothing to do with it.

I came to this conclusion in two ways. First, I have also increasingly noticed that if this said "obsession" is not one that I share and have started to really dislike, I often find myself with the desire to shout, "shut the hell up!" If I have to hear about your stupid stamp collection (or whatever) again, I am going to kill both you and myself." But, so far I haven't gone postal and done this, and have only heard it in my head and thankfully, have not heard myself utter it out loud.

But more profoundly, I recognize this in myself. After hearing myself drone on and on about my own "obsession," and seeing either the glazed over look in people's eyes, or, having them walk away in the hopes of escaping my incessant yammering about it, has really made me think about the danger of OCDing over anything.

My obsession with being a "writer," or, more specifically a farm/garden writer makes me want to "share" it with everyone. I somehow think it is my personal responsibility to save our small, local, and family farms, and to get more organic, edible, gardens planted, and to stop the "evil" corporations that are ruining our food system. I literally can't seem to turn it off.

However, my enthusiasm has been tempered by reality over the past 6 months (and not in a good way), and I have realized that there really is more to life than farming, sustainable food and gardening or writing about them. And, I seem to have suddenly realized that prior to this obsession, I liked to do many other things and I actually have many other interests.

This really hit home the other night when I was with some other people, and someone who has their own obsession (which in my opinion is way worse than mine) actually asked me to talk about gardening to change the subject. At that moment, I realized that is how people see me, that is how not only I define myself, but how they define me too.

I didn't realize this at the time, but, later when I thought about it,  I wish I would have said, "life is about more than just gardening. I like to talk about so many other things I am interested in. There's art, music, baseball, traveling, cooking, walking, reading, dancing, architecture, beer, tea, chocolate, cheese, movies, comedy, live theater, history, and so much more that we could talk about."

I don't want to be put in such a narrow little box, I don't want to be that one-dimensional. But, I am the one that has put myself there. That means I can take myself out. I am working hard on doing that by once again doing other things that I love other than working and volunteering. I will never stop doing either because I love them too. But, turning 50 has really reminded me that in what seems to be the blink of an eye, life starts to pass you by. Or, as Ferris Bueller said:

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