Saturday, April 5, 2008

Everyone Needs A Magnificent Obsession

Sunday night I had a dream.  I don’t remember what the dream was when I woke from it.  I am not sure what sparked it.  But, I woke with a specific phrase stuck in my brain, very clearly and very crisply.  This was the phrase

“Everyone Needs A Magnificent Obsession”

Now, I am not thinking of obsession in the negative or the eccentric sense.  (The other night in the chat room the entire room went off on a multi-hour riff on – lint.  Lint is an eccentric obsession, but I do not think it rises to the level of magnificence.)

What I am thinking of is more in the sense of an artist who spends countless hours practicing to capture just the perfect sense of light and space in a painting.  Michelangelo was magnificently obsessed.  Picasso was magnificently obsessed.  Another example would be a musician who spends thousands of hours of practice time to perfect their instrument. This is another magnificent obsession.  Andre Sergovia.  Sharon Ibsen.

I guess I am thinking of a magnificent obsession in terms of a central organizing principle.  Something we are excited todo before we go to bed.  Something we are excited to do when we get up in the morning.  Something that, when we have the free time we are passionately engaged in. 

I am not really sure I have such an obsession – and pretty sure that if I do, it does not rise to the level of magnificence.  So, having never had a magnificent obsession, I think I am going to search around and find one and nurture it for a while and see where it goes.

I have talked about the dream and the idea of a magnificent obsession to folks I know for the last week and I have gotten some interesting feedback.  Some people focused on the external appearance of eccentric behavior.  Some people suggested the things that they are looking for and would be obsessed with.  Some people suggested the things that they thought I would be interested in becoming obsessed with, based on their knowledge of me.  All great discussion so far, so I am enjoying the dialogue while I search about for my own magnificent obsession.  It may ultimately be something simple. 

For example, I play guitar. I would describe myself as competent.  Nothing worth bragging about, nothing that would stand out in a crowd.  Several of my friends suggested I dedicate several hours every night to practicing and take the skill to the next level.  I draw fairly well, some suggested I take that to the next level.  I like to write, some suggested I dedicate serious time in that direction. 

They are all excellent ideas and I am mulling them around.  Mulling is how I generally approach things.  I learned that from my parents – if you are going to make a decision – take your time, mull it around, let it settle, and then decide.  My mom says that all of the bad decisions she ever made in her life were decisions that she made too quickly.

So, if you have any ideas on what would make for a magnificent obsession, I would be curious to hear them.

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