The Thursday Thesis - 16/2/2017
“A Defence of Focus and Unreasonable Interest”
She told me I was obsessed as though it was a bad thing: that’s when I knew it was over.
This beautiful woman had missed the point, but it was hardly surprising.
You see, Obsession gets a bad press.
For decades, Obsession has been demonised in the media and turned into a disorder by doctors.
The negative spin on Obsession is overt and pervasive. For example, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an obsession as “a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling; broadly: compelling motivation”.
Nope – my vote goes to the last two words.
Though they look like a footnote, the words “compelling motivation” seem to be the real definition of an obsession: the object of an obsession is so irresistibly interesting, so fascinating, that it displaces almost everything else.
Now, it seems to me that the ability to sharpens one’s focus to such an extent is a very positive skill for anyone to have.
Think about it like this: a magnifying glass can concentrate the sun’s power into a tiny spot and produce very high temperatures, whereas the same sunlight – unfocused – might raise the temperature of a larger area by a couple of degrees.
Likewise, a nail focuses the energy of a swinging hammerhead into a tiny point - penetrating the hardest timber, where the hammer would produce a slight dent.
Throughout history, great achievers have been obsessive about their callings, interests, or ambitions. Shouldn’t we celebrate obsession, rather than revile it?
They call him “Alexander The Great”, not “Alexander the Work-Life Balanced” – the clue is in the name, isn’t it?
Could you imagine Churchill taking time off during The Blitz to find his “Work-Life Balance”?
Don’t make me laugh.
As we are so often encouraged not to be unreasonable or extreme, so often urged to “find Balance” in our lives, I believe that we are being lulled into the greyness of conforming to a bland normality.
In the ideal beige world of the Balanced and Normal people everything is average, and the acceptable normal will be enforced by the thought-police and the quackery of the psychiatric profession.
Obsession makes me think of a life lived more ferociously, more vividly and more passionately than an average and normal life. It’s like your favourite song, cranked to full volume and set to repeat: it never gets tired, and you keep on dancing.
I encourage you, right now, to get obsessive: to be unreasonably interested, to become preoccupied with what fascinates you, and to give the beige eternity of “Balance” The Finger.
“Balance” is what you have when you are becalmed, stupefied or tranquilised.
“Balance” can go screw itself – give me a magnificent Obsession any day of the week.
© Neil Cowmeadow 2017
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