A while ago I was having a conversation with Wise Lawyer Friend about life, work, and passions. Apparently, she has a co-worker who recently discovered bird watching. This person had never previously been the outdoor sort, but now she vaults out of bed in the morning eager to get an eyeful of what’s chirping.
I don’t really understand the appeal of bird watching, but this woman has never been happier. At the time we were having this conversation, we were driving back from a play starring Theatre MILF Friend that was about an hour away from where we live, and at least 90 minutes away from Theatre MILF’s town.
“What are you passionate about?” Wise Lawyer Friend, “Clearly Theatre MILF is passionate about this since she would put in so much time and effort, arrange babysitters, memorize lines etc.– so what’s yours?”
I listed off a bunch of things I would consider myself passionate about, after reminding Wise Lawyer that the word “passion” is a bit too reminiscent of Oprah for my taste, among them books and learning, travel, good music, new experiences, solid friendships…
“I don’t know if I would ever want to be passionate about just one thing like the bird watcher,” I said, “I’m happy for her, of course, but I have a very big fear of being one-dimensional, and I’m far too eager to try new things.” Then I remembered the line that I wrote in my introduction to my masters thesis that I liked the best. We were meant to be talking about our favorite writers and how they influenced us, and why we write. I said that writing is important to me because it’s the one thing I’ve never quit. I’ve quit most other things that I’ve attempted– for a variety of reasons, or put things on hiatus– but writing is the thing that I’ve been doing since I learned how.
I also mentioned to Wise Lawyer Friend that I didn’t understand the appeal of bird watching, “My husband went once, I’m sure he’d be willing to take you sometime.”
“Yeah, sure.” I said automatically, knowing that it was something that would never happen, but we would make an amorphous promise and never follow through. “Actually, no, I really don’t care about trying out bird watching, I just want to understand the appeal– like James Patterson, or romantic comedies. If it was something I really wanted to do– I would have done it already.”
That’s my new philosophy. Sure, there are moments when I look at a beautiful garden or hear people telling stories of amazing quilts, or triathlons, or whatever when I get a pang and think maybe I should do something like that. But then it turns out that I really don’t care, or I’m not very good at it, or the work involved is just more than I’m willing to do. Inevitably I feel a bit guilty and lazy, but then I get over it.
Now, I’m going to leave these things to the people who really care, and know that I could do it, but it’s okay to just not want to.
I’ve done the things that are important to me, and I’m still doing them. I write nearly every day; I read every day; I keep on getting advanced degrees and even while working on that, I learn as much other random stuff as I can (I totally schooled a park ranger last week on my knowledge of self-supporting marble domes); I have many good, reliable friends; I have up-coming travel plans; and I’m constantly on watch for something new (should I really want to take it on). By my own standards, I’m a success, and even if the day-to-day is a bit of a drudgery at times, it’s all fitting into the big picture quite nicely.