I will be the first person to admit that I am given to fixations. I find something that interests me and then I make it my mission to learn as much as I can about it. I get waist deep in the subject. It takes up quite a bit of my time and my mind.
I guess you could say I get temporarily obsessed.
I wouldn’t call it a problem (as denial would be fitting for such things) because it doesn’t interfere with my functioning. In some ways, it actually improves my functioning.
My obsessions become something to look forward to, something to get excited about. They improve my mood. They give me something to focus on and give me a place to go to when I need a break from the world. I need a warm fuzzy or a smile or a bit of comfort, it’s my hut on the beach, my winter cabin in the woods.
Naturally, this sort of behavior can be disconcerting. You get too deep into an obsession and extraction takes professional help at $150 an hour and maybe a backwards fitting jacket, if the obsession consumes enough of you. Luckily enough for me, I get bored before that sort of thing happens.
Okay, it’s true. There are some obsessions that I have carried with me for years, but not at a maintained intensity. I fell in love the The Monkees when I was six and twenty-five years later, that hasn’t changed. The obsession peaked my senior year of high school, the intensity fading within a year of graduating. But I still listen to the music, watch the show, and collect the memorabilia. It’s a designated safe place for me to go when I need a boost.
I acquire my obessions in various ways. Sometimes I stumble into them. Sometimes they come from friends. Some I’ve had so long that I feel like I’ve been born with them. Often times as the intensity of one obession fades, I’ll acquire a new one or the intensity of an old one will rev up.
I’m sure that there’s no coincidence that the intensity of my obessions goes hand and hand with dreary times in my life. When my Monkees obsession hit its peak, I was in the midst of a depression slide following my parents’ divorce. School was where I went to be a normal teenager and the Monkees were my happy place.
Last summer was a dismal one for me. My laptop crashed, my Internet failed, and it was a nightmare trying to put all of the pieces back together. Considering that at the time the bulk of my money was made via the Internet in some form (either selling stories or selling stuff on eBay), I was feeling the pressure and I was feeling pretty low.
With a sudden influx of time on my hands, I turned to watching the Cubs play to stop from chewing myself up. I’ve been a Cubs fan since I was a kid, watching the games and checking the standings. But last summer, it became my obsession. My scheduled revolved around the games. Instead of waiting and stressing about getting a new computer and getting the Internet issue resolved and how I was going to make up for lost time, I transferred that emotion and devotion to my Cubs. It became a safe emotional outlet. And despite the miserable season, it became my happy place.
It’s still my happy place, even in the off-season. There’s still news to be kept up with and there’ll be more than just warm weather to look forward to.
Now I imagine the intensity of this obsession, as with the others, will fade, but my love of baseball and the Cubs will remain. In turn, something else will take its place, a new bit of happy to warm the cockles of my cold, black heart and be my new refuge from the harshness of reality and life.
It might drive my friends and family crazy sometimes, but it sure beats drinking.