An older figure I know has devoted his entire life to his profession. He’s excellent at it. It’s also the only thing he has practiced with any kind of dedication or passion for the last 40 or so years of his life. So now that he is in retirement age, he doesn’t have much else that interests him. So he clings to his work, when he should be enjoying his golden years.
Another influential figure in my life has always been a huge foodie. He loved to cook, enjoyed eating out, was obsessed with all the cooking shows. Sadly, he has slowly lost the ability to taste food as he has grown older. He has stopped cooking and doesn’t the same joy out of dining out or experiencing new flavors and cuisines.
I write this to remind myself of the importance of cultivating a variety of passions in one’s life.
There is the temptation to devote oneself to the singular pursuit of one thing — your job, your partner, a specific form of art. It’s a tendency that I am particularly prone to. But what if something happens to make that part of your life no longer available?
I love dancing so much. But what would happen if dancing were no longer possible, if my body no longer cooperated with my spirit? Where would I find my joy? I don’t know the answer to that, and that kind of scares me.
Much of the other things I pursue are also very focused on the body and movement: rock climbing, running, biking. What if I couldn’t continue to do those things?
When I was younger I used to have many quieter, more calm pursuits: long-form reading, writing poetry, meditation, tai chi. I feel like I need to more diligently nurture those practices, or they won’t be readily available to me when I need them.
Your hobbies and activities are kind of like plants in your spiritual vegetable garden. If you only grow spinach and the crop goes bad, what will you eat? Better to have a variety of pursuits growing in your life, so if one were to wither, you would still have something else to fill you up inside, to feel satisfied.
I’m going to meditate on that for a bit… After I get back from the climbing gym.