obsession: an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with something or someone [syn fixation].Sound familiar? Ah yes...we've all had them.
It being a being a cloudy/ugly holiday, I thought I would reflect on obsessions and my experiences with them.
Let us begin by dividing them up into various categories: self, collecting, digital. And then let us delve into the various precursors for obsession: genetic, boredom (sorry...couldn't find a decent link for this) and culture (yeah, yeah, yeah...this link was gratuitous...what of it?).
Let's walk through a few of my life's obsessions:
- Baseball cards (collecting...culture) - In 1978, I collected baseball cards. Not Fleer. Not Donruss. My cards were Topps. I lived and breathed these things. As soon as I had some loose change, or a dollar or two...up the street to the Candy Store I would go to get more. In the end, it all came down to Duane Kuiper...I sent word out that anyone who had Duane would get ALL of my duplicates, triplicates, etc. Meaning...one card was worth another three or four hundred to the lucky finder of Duane's card. I look back now and think: WHAT AN IDIOT. All those cards for Kuiper? At the time...it was the only thing to do. It ended my obsession. I got Kuiper and could rest easy. The cards now rest in my room in my mom's house. Not sure what condition they are in or when I'll ever see them again. Perhaps it is time to send them back into the collecting world for others to obsess over. (Note: I will never forget Duane's name...impossible to do so. Upon moving to the Bay Area, a smile was formed when I found out that he is the local color commentator for Giants broadcasts.)
- Exercise/Food (self...culture) - In high school, I was pretty good at the 110-high hurdles. (Thanks for all that coaching Max, wherever you are!) When senior year rolled around, I got off to a lousy start, my times were not as good as I thought that they should be, and I blamed it all on my weight: a whopping 5 pound increase from the year before. I would train at practice, and then come home and stretch and do plyometrics and have a very meager meal. I NEEDED to get better. I was TOO heavy. Luckily, the French Club interrupted the season and while living large in Montreal and Quebec City with my classmates, I gained 7 pounds. Upon my return, the new weight changed everything: the records started to fall again, and I finished the season on a high note. And...I learned that food is fuel, not a foe.
- Games (self/digital...boredom) - The summer of '92, I spent at college, working part-time at the HUB and hanging out with friends. Most people were taking classes, so while they were busy studying, I was busy mastering Minesweeper. I HAD to have the best score on all the levels...and once I did, I had to beat that score. I think my records were: 6 seconds, 28 seconds and 62 seconds for the three different levels. It was INSANE how much time I spent playing that idiotic game. Luckily, a project came up that soon became my new compulsion (history project for a club I was in). To this day, I detest playing video games since I see them as such a waste of my time.
- Reading (self...boredom) - Sometime, after college, I REALLY began reading for pleasure. I typically jump around from genre to genre, but sometimes, I get hooked on a certain writer and immerse myself in her/his works. The last immersion was Vonnegut. I think I covered about 12 of his books in about three weeks. This isn't necessarily bad, but I have seen it impact my work in the past...staying up really late to finish a book and then being dead tired the next day. These days, I actually wish I had more time to read.
- Social Networks (digital...culture) - This is a relatively new phenomena...last 5 years or so. The Bay Area seems to be the hotbed for these networks (either founded or highly popular here): Ryze, Friendster, MySpace, Orkut, Mixermixer, LinkedIn; and now a few new destinations to steal time from my soul: Flickr, Blogger & Bloglines. I have a profile on every social site known to man. It probably didn't hurt knowing some of the founders (helping out their cause), but I definitely went WAY overboard in my dealings with those sites. The upshot...I made tons of friends, so the time can't be seen as a complete waste.