Obsessions, Expansion, Contraction

Science fiction and college sports (specifically Tar Heel sports) were my obsessions when I was an adolescent.  My days especially Saturdays were spent doing two things reading and watching sports.  A typical Saturday would start by going to the library to get a couple of paper back science fiction books and reading them, then watching basketball or football for the rest of the day, then reading until I went to sleep. That was all cared about.  At some point all that began to change.

I stopped reading science fiction.  I don’t know if it was finding Shakespeare or Sex, Lies, and Videotape for the first time or if soccer replaced it, but something changed.  I want to get back to reading science fiction as soon as I get through the virtual stack of books I’ve bought in the last year on my Kindle.

I also don’t have the same relationship with college sports I used to have. That is a little easier to decipher, I began to notice the unfair nature of modern college athletics and have grown tired of the hypocrisy of the people who control it.  However, I think my relationship still would have changed over time, but it wouldn’t have soured as it has.

Why do we grow out of the things we obsessed over as kids as we get older?  Is it merely the putting away of childish things or is it that those things allowed us to expand our world in a safe way while teaching us to continue to expand our world and therefore growing past them. 

Without science fiction to stoke and in a sense create my imagination, could I have ever been able to see the worlds Shakespeare created in my mind?  Without those glimpses of faraway college campuses, would I have thought about going to college to be a part of those awesome looking places? 

Maybe we move on to different obsessions and obsess in different ways when we expand past the limits of our current fixation.  We explore and ruminate over our obsessions until we reach out past their edges and find a sliver of light that leads us to the next thing to capture our minds. 

Also, our obsessions fuel our vision of our own possibilities.  As we get older our obsessions become more existential.  We hope studying a subject on a minute and almost abstract level will give us understanding, and with that understanding meaning. 

It is the same with anything:  movies, television, literature, music, beer, deciduous trees.  The study of the most minute details of a subject is a search for meaning.  Not only for that subject, but in our own lives. 

When you are a kid your obsessions are to teach you how big the world is.  When you are an adult, your obsessions are to grab hold to a tiny part of that world in hopes that it will shed light on the meaning of your life.  We expand our world to find out how much the world can hold and later contract our word to find meaning in the individual things that holds.

For me, to live is to seek.  I am at my happiest when I am exploring and looking for something.  That something is not necessarily an actual thing or place, but usually an idea or a feeling.  That is the same for most people up to a certain age.  That age is different for everyone.  Until you reach that age, you are seeking to expand your world to learn about it and in the process learn about yourself. 

I cannot conceive of a life of content non-seeking.  Any periods of melancholy or ennui that I experience (like the one I am coming out of now) are caused not by not seeking, but by beginning to believe that this seeking is a futility.  That for all the seeking I have ended up nowhere.  I forget that it is the process of seeking that makes life worthwhile. 


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