Some passions die a natural death, while others are allowed to languish, and forgotten. I’ve been thinking about the idea of passion lately, in part because of a realization I had related to my current set of goals, but mostly noticing I just wasn’t feeling it.
I’m a passionate guy, and what is a passionate guy with no passions? Oxymoronic? Nonexistent? Whatever the apt description, it’s nobody I want to be. This didn’t happen by accident, this is a side-effect of my approach to writing novels. Having no experience, whatever method I chose was going to be hit and miss, and it didn’t manifest till after I went back to work. (Let me back up, I took a 15-ish month sabbatical during which I gave vent to all my passions – it was during this time I developed my writing methodology). So, what seemed almost an insufficient time devotion while unemployed has become something that takes up all of my free psychic-time. The paradox of being disciplined is when the discipline runs its course, your lizard-brain is aware of it long in advance of your precious “plan making” neocortex, resulting in a lot of cognitive dissonance. For me its meant becoming less creative and more intellectually lethargic. That is a stupidly long-winded way of saying “Big Daddy needs some fun”.
You don’t choose passions, you HAVE passions, finding new ones tends to result from pursing existing ones – this is the cycle I inadvertently interrupted. So, to break this bad mojo, I’m going to take a few weeks to revisit some of my long ignored passions and see if it triggers some much-needed juice!
I thought I was getting some good humor energy from the podcasts I listen to, and while they can be funny, they’re long-form conversations and by definition this is wildly different from the work product of a humorist. Back in the day I didn’t seek it out, it was just in the environment. Before the digital revolution I had great daily cartoonists in my life like Gary Larson, Berke Breathed, Gary Trudeau and Bill Watterson all on the reg. Comedy concert films from Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and George Carlin would pop up – making the effort to hit the theater let the funny sink in harder. Now that I think about it, we had some seriously funny radio personalities for my morning and evening commutes – all this is gone.
The bottom line is that life doesn’t shove humor in front of me the way it used to, so I need to get out there and consume it. YouTube and Netflix has a wealth of stand-up and comedy films, and I’m going to yuk it up! The key for me is frequency, I’ll experiment with “dosage” but I’m figuring a couple of times a week.
We all have our totems, things that are a taproot, things that spark us. Mine happens to be Perry Mason, in particular the TV show. It was my gateway to film noir, 50’s style and culture, pulp fiction. Yeah, go ahead and laugh it up – but I defy you to watch the first three seasons of Perry and not get caught up in the aesthetic. Mad Men (which comes to an end this week) is a post-modern meditation on this period – PM is straight from the tap. Made all the more compelling by what it doesn’t show, this is an idealized vision of a country that never really existed – I LOVE it!
What watching Perry Mason does for me, is fire my imagination – it doesn’t last, after awhile of being re-immersed in it, it’s just a TV show. But I’m betting the first few jolts of Perry, Della and Paul a couple of times a week will spark up some of the old fire.
This baffles me, I love drawing but I’ll just stop drawing for months on end, then get frustrated that I suck when I start up. Some deep-seated psychological pattern has taken hold where I’m taking drawing “seriously” – like it’s supposed to be meaningful rather than simply expressive. I’ve battled this for a long time, sputtering starts followed by long droughts.
Drawing is another thing that fires my imagination, but it needs to be done often enough that it’s unconscious. I’ve got plenty of sketchbooks waiting to be filled, so that’s what I’ll do. I think the best approach will be to commit an hour to drawing whatever reference photos I have (and I have plenty) if I’ve got nothing on my mind, and doodling if I feel the muse. I just have to break the feeling that it has to “lead” to something, let it be passionate.
Look, I’m not talking music appreciation, or deep musical exploration – just listening to music. I can’t write with music playing, where it actually stimulates the creation of visual art – so more visual art equals more music. Music hits me like booze hits other people, it opens me up, it’s an art form I have no talent in and therefore no aspirations, so I can engage it at a purely physical and emotional level. I’ll fall into traps of musical “should’s” (I should listen to new music, I should listen to serious music, I should get better speakers, blah, blah, blah) instead of just cranking whatever’s available. I own a lot of music, and I’m not averse to just listening to the radio, so access is not a problem.
I will say this, until somebody comes up with an entirely new technology, I won’t be getting my tunes via earbuds or the net – having unlimited access to the worlds catalog is fine, but it sounds like ass. I was never an audiophile (I knew a few too many and never had that kind of disposable income), but I need me some dimension in my sound!
I exercise all the freakin’ time, usually six times a week, and it’s become deadly dull. At the root of this is another of my weird “mind-bundling” things (and possibly some fear of aging things too – things tend to rip and pop more often now). The bundle is I got it into my skull that weight loss and muscle gain are mutually exclusive – I KNOW this isn’t true – but knowing and executing are two different things. Also, it’s been years since I had a training partner, which is a whole other belief system I need to get rid of (i.e. you can’t excel without a training partner – true at the upper reaches of performance – not so true for a far-from-the-mountaintop slacker like me).
I’ve got more banged up body parts than a ’76 Mercury Montego, but the machine still runs and can run better. I’m going back to basics – document my max reps for pushups, pullups, squats, planks – then set some goals and see what happens!
I don’t know, maybe this is caveman stuff, I just like to win – I like the feeling of winning. My life doesn’t offer a lot of natural opportunities for that clean sensation of “win or lose”, and I want some. So, that’s what I’ll do!
We like to delude ourselves that we’re thinking creatures with emotions, when we’re really just emotional creatures who get around to thinking when not blinded by emotion. All us humans have is our emotions and thoughts – everything else is removable. I choose to be passionate about life, because I like the way being passionate feels. I hope you have deep passions, things that resonate at the core of your being, things you can tap into when things look bleak. If you don’t, you can, the first step is believing that how you feel matters. It does.