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Blogenning Theme of the Week: Obsessions

Part of the fun of the Blogenning is having people get to decide what one of your posts that week should be about. Some weeks it’s incredibly easy, some weeks you have nothing to say about that subject and just have to roll with it. This week we’re talking about obsessions. I’ll let you decide where this one falls.

Obsessions are interesting things, especially in this caffeine addled day and age. I find my obsessions these days last about an hour or two, and then shift to something else. I remember days as a kid where I could sit around all day playing with matchbox cars or building things with Legos, and be completely absorbed by it for eight or nine hours. My mother would call me for lunch or dinner, and I would try to bring whatever I was playing with along with me, which usually didn’t fly. Then, as soon as I was finished, I would run right back to it.

These days, I get maybe two hours max out of my obsessions. Even at work I don’t have the same obsession all day. I become incredibly engrossed in whatever problem I’m solving, but when you break that down in to sub-problems that only take an hour or two to solve, you find yourself bouncing around a lot. I suppose it would be fair to say that for 8 hours a day I’m obsessed with programming (aside from short breaks for coffee, foosball, and lunch). I am given wholly over to it for that time. It just never feels that way. It always feel like it’s a collection of mini-obsessions in the same general theme. Push one of those smaller obsessions beyond two hours and I start to get bored and cranky.

Even with guitar, which is my current over-arching obsessive theme at home right now, I’m bouncing between writing music, researching amps, researching effects (each effect is it’s own mini-obsession), learning scales, and reading what other people have to say on technique. I may spend an hour on one of those, then take a break to eat dinner, then bounce around the others for a while. Then I’ll become obsessed with DJing on Turntable and talking to my friends. Then back to screwing around on the guitar. Then I’ll work on writing for here. Or work on another project I have going. Then back to guitar before finally turning in for the night.

I never seem to work on anything for more than an hour or two, though, lest my brain rebel and cry “go to sleep, you boring son of a bitch.”

If instead of my mini-obsessions centered definition, we want to consider obsessions as the overarching themes, I find those switch on me about every 3 months. Programming is notable exception to this, as it’s the one I can never really afford to abandon. It provides for me, after all. But if I’m really interested in music right now, in a few months I’ll be on to writing, or photography, or gaming, or maybe something completely new. That’s all I’ll want to talk about, and I’ll talk about it at great lengths. Then, just as I reach a new depth of knowledge in it, and just as you become accustomed to thinking about me as a person obsessed with that sort of thing, I’ll move on to something else.

This has been incredibly frustrating for me, historically. All of the greats had life-long obsessions with something. They were wholly given over to one thing and spent their entire lives mastering it. The closest I come to that is programming, and that’s out of necessity to provide for myself and have a career. I enjoy it, but, like I said about writing a few posts ago, it’s not really who I am at the core. The closest I come to a lifelong obsession in my heart is music, but there are too many things that get in the way.

I don’t mean that I feel like I’ve had to give up on my dream because it was a crap-shoot instead of a safe bet. It seems to me that most creative people who don’t work as artists seem to think that way. That’s not it for me. I like my job. The problem with considering music as my life-long obsession is that I get completely burned out on it from time to time. While it may be the thing in my life that means the most to me, sometimes I want absolutely nothing to do with it. Some days I’ve had enough of it and can’t stomach listening to music or thinking about it anymore. Sometimes that day becomes weeks, or months. I’ve always come around, but maybe one day I won’t.

As I said, it takes a life-long obsessions to become great. This is why I will never be a great guitar player, or pianist, or drummer. I can’t focus my entire life on obsession over any one of those things. I want to do them all. I want to learn more instruments. I want to learn and do as much different, interesting stuff with music as I can. Provided I don’t get burned out on it completely, this may someday mean I become a master musician, but I’m not counting on that.

No, I’ll continue to bounce around my various obsessions and see what happens. It’s the way I do things, and it’s served me well so far. It may not have given me the ability to feel like I’ve mastered any one thing, but these days I’m less sure that’s actually important. What it’s given me is a lifetime of new experiences and things to talk about. I think everyone works differently. Some people need to always be trying something new, and some people want to do one thing really well. I seem to be somewhere in the middle, which seems to be a good place to be. I hope it will continue, and that I will become obsessed with new and unexpected things as time goes on.

You can bet I’ll talk to you about them on here.

– B


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