I had a minor epiphany tonight.
A few months ago, I started a blog with some friends. It was essentially a way for us to compile and discuss the stories that we shared with each other on a daily basis anyway.
It lasted about four months. Eventually, we all just stopped writing.
If you were to peruse the posts of that blog, you’d notice something: there is no central theme that ties it all together. No central idea drives the content of the blog. It was really just an aggregation of the things we found interesting, but nothing connected the dots from one post to the next.
Last night, I was talking about the failure of the blog with one of its co-founders. I told him that if we ever tried to do something similar in the future, we would have to first find some more specialized topic or theme and then dive deep into content on that theme. I mentioned that I’d like to do that for myself now: find something to write about and then explore it from all angles.
My only problem is that I haven’t a clue what that something could be.
I’m currently a voracious consumer of news and opinions, but I’m anything but a picky eater. I might read a story about the death penalty and chase it moments later with a story about the latest iOS 10 rumors. Just look at my What I’m Reading page. If you can find a central theme (other than vaguely American politics), then you might know me better than I know myself.
I don’t know what I care about. Therefore, I don’t know what I care about writing.
I was reading this post by Umair Haque. He wrote about doing not just what you love but doing what moves you, what loves you and what loves. This line struck me:
To do what moves you, you need to find out first. Just think about all the things you love. What really ties [them] together? What connects them?
But what if I can’t work out that first part? What if listing the things I love is harder than that?
For the record, I’m talking exclusively recreational passion here. There are many things I love in my life. I love my fiancé and the time we spend together. I love my job and the people I work with. I love my family.
And, yes, there are things I do in my spare time that make me genuinely happy. I already mentioned that I am a heavy consumer of the written word. I love reading the news early in the morning and tearing through a book on the commute to work. I have recently started working to improve my photography skills. I try to take any opportunity to see something in my city or state I’ve never seen before.
But those are all very broad areas of exploration. There isn’t a type of book I consistently read more than others, or a topic I can’t get enough of. There is no particular subject on which I consistently focus in my photographs. I don’t even know that my photography demonstrates any regularity in style. And I’m not a history buff or science geek searching for answers in the places that surround me.
Sometimes I see how easily people around me take deep dives into the things they love, and I wonder why I haven’t been able to do that yet. For example, my two closest friends at work have immediately identifiable areas of expertise when it comes to their recreational activities. One is the most passionate fan of live music I’ve ever met—he goes to over 100 shows a year. The other could talk to you for days about the intricacies of the film industry and describes in astonishing detail what, in his opinion, makes a film good or bad.
If you asked those coworkers what my “thing” is, I’m not sure they’d immediately produce an answer. Maybe they’d say politics? But Jesus! I don’t want politics to be my thing. Please don’t let something as boring as politics be my thing.
It might sound like I’m being awfully harsh on myself, but I’m actually not. I don’t think that my lack of direction when it comes to my passion is a bad thing. I think I’ve committed myself to being very open to the things I find interesting; so open, in fact, that I’m now unable to focus on one thing at a time.
I don’t doubt that finding my thing will come. Perhaps acknowledging my directionlessness is the first step to finding it. I don’t want to wander aimlessly for too long. But if I am going to feel in the dark for what really drives me, now seems like the perfect time to do just that.