Between addiction and love live our obsessions. Some thoughts…
December 1, 2014
Been thinking about obsession. Not Calvin Klein’s perfume from the late 80’s. Though it is a fitting digression, seeing as Obsession was a quintessential icon of the greed decade, which actually does lead to my thoughts on obsession…
My young daughters love to toss around the word “obsession” to mean something they can’t stop thinking about and/or get enough of. A good example might be a type of candy or a popular song. Maybe it’s a brand of clothing or a food item from this restaurant or that store. And so on.
Now you know why advertisers are so interested in obsession. If only they could get more people to obsess about their products. If only. But obsession is ephemeral, like a vapor. Here today gone tomorrow or, if advertisers are lucky, the day after tomorrow.
As I think about obsession, I realize it lies somewhere between addiction and love: the third point in that Bermuda Triangle. The differences are subtle but profound. Love generally is a “good” thing. Addiction not so much. Obsession can go either way. By my daughters’ definition, obsession is generally harmless.
“OMG. I’m so obsessed with painting my nails.”
But adults obsess. I am or have been obsessed with all manner of things, including in no particular order: leather jackets, bicycles, running, fishing, zombies, old oil paintings, U2, aquarium keeping, silver rings and writing. To you a random list but for me these things are or have been significant totems. One aspect that marks them as obsessions is my inability to stop thinking about them. It is like my head is a rock tumbler and I keep turning over the same thoughts. I have literally stayed up nights wondering if one of my aquarium corals is dead or merely in a dormant stage. Obviously, the Internet is a fiendish companion to obsession. Search “dormant corals.” Search “reviving dormant corals.” You get the idea.
While obsessive behavior resembles addiction it is not. Addiction is the Ace of Spades in that it trumps all obsessions and very often love for that matter. An addict will stop at nothing and stoop to anything to get what he wants. Trust me.
I do not know what it is like to obsess about another human being. Perhaps there was a girl in high school. But those memories are vague. I love my wife and children unconditionally but I am not always thinking about them. When I do worry and wonder about one of my girls I feel intensely vulnerable and so I stop. Rightly or wrongly, I take love for granted. I’m working on it. On the other hand, obsessing over another person is not healthy either. See stalking.
Leather me up…
What I like about obsessions are their ability to fill one up. A hobby (fish keeping), collection (leather jackets) or passion (U2 music) somehow makes life keener and more fun. I’ve been instructed that it might behoove me to set my compass on a more spiritual course. Alas, I may be too cynical for that. Perhaps that’s why I’m obsessed with U2. Like Bono, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. In the meantime, I’ve got my eye on this badass vintage biker jacket on ebay.