Lately, I seem to be reading or seeing on television stories about people with abiding and intense interests; one might even say passions. I'm not talking about romantic interests but rather in subjects. One book I read recently is the Night Villa by Carol Goodman, where the protagonist, a university professor of Classics, talks about one of her students having an unusual passion for the material she studies. Okay, I don't get how anyone can have a passion for dry ancient texts, but I appreciate that people do. Another, The Art of Detection by Laurie R. King is about an investigation into the death of Sherlockian - a person who lived and breathed Arthur Conan Doyle's most celebrated fictional character. In the area of non-fiction, I have read books by Nicholas Basbanes who has written extensively about bibliophilia or the love of books, particularly in his A Gentle Madness and Among the Gently Mad.
Our local cable provider has been giving its subscribers a free preview of the HIFI Channel. A number of shows on this channel deal with people's passions. Collector Showdown is a low-budget game show that pits single-minded collectors of various things (e.g. shoes, breweryana, trains, quilts to name but a few) against each other in tests of knowledge and skill with the victor winning something related to his or her collecting field. Without exception, the people on the shows spend most of their free time and disposable income on their hobbies. Another show on the same channel is Style in Steel, a show that often features people who restore and collect cars. Yet another show is Guitar Picks, a show that deals with various aspects of guitars, but often has stories on obsessive guitar collectors and luthiers.
I kind of envy the types of people portrayed in these books and shows - people who can lose themselves in a particular subject or activity, whose devotion is almost single-minded and who relentlessly seek to improve their knowledge and mastery of their field of interest. Outside of my family, I have no true passion that occupies my time and attention. I have myriad interests, some of which I have sustained over a longer period of time, and many more that are fleeting and transient. I guess my interest in hand crafts, especially woodworking comes close, but even then, I spend more time reading about them than actually doing them. Hockey is another that comes close, particularly my home team, the Ottawa Senators, but even then, I am not so enthralled that I study team statistics or the team's history. I watch the games, follow the team and keep track of the standings in the paper and buy the occasional piece of merchandise, but that's about it. Even that, though, has been tainted by the current NHL strike where a bunch of angry rich people are arguing over huge sums of money without a thought to the people that provide that money, namely us, the fans.
I'm not sure why I envy these people, but I do. I guess I feel a little directionless, like I'm floundering. Maybe my depression and anxiety account for part of it. I've also found myself somewhat preoccupied over the last few years about leaving some kind of legacy - a body of work that will outlive me. Make no mistake, I am proud of my little girl and am aware that I will be leaving a remarkable and good human being to the world. In fact, she is my single greatest source of pride. However, she's in school or with friends or asleep for a lot of time and it's what I do with that time that I want to mean something and something lasting.
So, I guess, the struggle continues.