A friend asked me once, “If you had to choose, would you rather be someone who is easily interested, or easily bored?” I almost blurted out, “Easily bored!” but then stopped myself. Since I was a kid, I’ve found it hard to stick with things, always naturally curious about the new. But, I realized, that means I’m easily interested, too.
As I’ve gotten older, my brain flits (a bit) less and some fancies have stuck, which has come as a relief. Also, I’ve discovered that by doing what it takes to re-invent, re-discover and stay enthusiastic, I’m able to stick with things. It feels great, even better than the buzz of the new. It’s like training myself to specialize: attending seminars and events; reminding myself of past experiences (to keep viewing a show beyond episode five); reading up on everything about an interest to learn and stay current.
The good news is: it’s possible to train yourself to stick at it. Constantly flitting is no good for anyone. But I now have an obsession with a small, blue, cartoon koala.
Because obsessions are, well, obsessions, I feel the need to share them.
1. God bless letterpress. The simple, though never simplistic style of relief printing has given me a new love of handwriting notes and cards. The ritual of writing, sealing, finding a stamp, keeping the addressed envelopes all lined up and ready to mail, the thought of my excited recipient as they open it, it’s all a joy. The US really knows how to do it right, too. I can spend hours browsing in stationery shops (aka, time warps), thinking of all the exciting occasions that haven’t happened yet, which might give me an excuse to mail something in letterpress. (The sure sign of obsession was when I missed the letterpress swap meet at the International Printing Museum, and was crestfallen). I also think a different part of my brain works when I put pen to paper. Writing in longhand and then typing up is what novelist Cecelia Ahern advises to help one find one’s voice. I’d encourage you to give it a go.
2. Blu stickers on Viber. For when I don’t have time to letterpress. I haven’t found a seminar on him yet, but I might organize one.
3. Good television. I was going to write Game of Thrones, or Mad Men, or Brooklyn Nine-Nine, or Sherlock, but I just can’t narrow it down. This year, I’ve found a magic in television that I first found in film. I’m lucky to live in LA, where I can attend all sorts of panels and special screenings of my favorite shows. I’ll always love the cathedral experience of going to the theater, awed by a movie on the big screen, but being plugged into my laptop on HBONow or Netflix makes me equally content. It’s a boutique, private viewing experience, purely curated by me.
4. Samosas and chewy chocolate chip cookies. Those who know me well know my oft-voiced obsession and childlike delight with those crisp, triangle-shaped meat or veggie stuffed pastries from India. The Lebanese do a delicious cheese-stuffed version too (different name, same concept). My younger niece made me an origami samosa when I moved away from London (which I’ve flattened, and used as a bookmark). I check out reviews and ask around for all the best Indian eateries, and Viber my mom to talk me through the recipe whilst unfurling the pastry. Oh – and cookies. My oven’s out of commission, so I’m currently on a quest to find the best. Top of the list (so far) are Snookies and Milk Jar.
5. Manners. They say manners maketh the man, and I think it’s true. I’m far from perfect, but I do my best to say please and thank you. I worry excessively about manners, google and ask around about cultural norms. I ended up buying a book on the topic a few years ago (which I found in a letterpress shop in Seattle – they clearly know their clientele). Some may find my excessive politeness stifling, but probably have no idea they’re dealing with a manners obsessive. I once broke up with a chap who could never say please or thank you to waiting staff, cabbies, anyone in a service profession. As my wise friend Agnieszka once told me, “Thank you costs you nothing.” Just try it.
6. Time. A lasting obsession, one I don’t have to train myself to stick with. I strive to use time better (including idleness and sleep, I’ve learned). I’m only content as long as I feel I’ve done, oh, a billion things each day. On the days I don’t use my time well, I feel irritable and dissatisfied, as if I’ve cheated myself.
OK, blog post done. Time to finish today’s work, send a letter, google the Mad Men exhibition in New York, cook, eat a cookie, watch Game of Thrones, be idle, sleep.
[Image courtesy of Viber]