Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Integrating and Refining Multiple Passions

I often have trouble negotiating how much energy I want to pour into any one endeavor. When I become interested in something, I can tend to get somewhat obsessed (even going so far as devoting daily blog posts to new hobbies…)  I am passionately interested in woodworking, playing banjo, writing, backpacking/hiking, cooking, photography, eco-advocacy, and politics. Because one's time and energy are finite, it is easy to feel pulled between multiple interests and passions. I am old enough now that I have seen my engagement ebb and flow to varying degrees with many avocations over the years. As much pleasure as I get from deep engagement with any one endeavor, some other part of me feels a tension from a lack of engagement with something else. In part, this is simply lustful thinking - a type of greed born of not fully appreciating the moments and opportunities in which I'm presently engaged and worrying that I might be missing out on something. I also believe, however, that the aggravating itch I sometimes feel when a passion becomes overly distant reflects the legitimate value and meaning that passion has given me. What I am trying to do is slowly refine, adapt, and combine these interests into a more holistic relationship with one another rather than see them as fractured, disjointed, and separate pursuits.

Gradually, I am learning that I can weave multiple passions together into a more integrated whole or at least little vignettes of collaboration.  I am trying to find where disciplines overlap and might complement one another. I've tried to do just that with this blog combing writing, photography, and an interest in backpacking. Occasionally, I will also indulge some of those other interests like politics and environmentalism on this site. This has been especially rewarding and has kept me from feeling overly remote from any one of those passions. Other interests, however, have not been so easily integrated, so I've tried to simply stay connected to them.

"Just stay connected" is the phrase that rummages around my mind when I feel annoyed that I don't have the will or energy to devote as much time as I'd like into a passion. I sometimes feel that if I can't fully engage with something, why bother at all? This is an obsessive's dilemma. For the past year or so, however, I've tried to remind myself of that ebb and flow I spoke of above. My goal is to simply stay connected to something, even if that means only playing banjo for ten or fifteen minutes several times a week for instance, rather than ditching it altogether and never practicing at all. This way, if the "flow" picks up down the line or opportunities emerge, I won't be re-learning from such a distanced relationship. I sometimes have to simply take the pressure off of myself to "succeed" at something and remember to simply enjoy myself.

So, those have been the strategies I've employed in trying to refine my relationship to multiple passions -  integrating and combining those that lend themselves to collaboration and staying connected to those that are important to me but not as easily incorporated into other endeavors. Lucky for you, I have not yet found a good way to incorporate my banjo playing into this blog. Be warned, however, the refinement process persists. 

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