I’ve always been a Jack of All Trades, Master of None type. I get enthusiastic, passionate, even obsessed about whatever my current interest(s) are. I collect and organize every bit of information I can. I start filling notebooks, blogs, folders (virtual and real), and boxes with the stuff of that interest. I end up with, say, a collection of fountain pens, fountain pen repair supplies, books about fountain pens, and web pages and PDFs about fountain pens. Or the equivalent collection, conglomeration, and accretion of stuff to do with bookbinding, weightlifting, classic jazz, origami, etc.
I reach the level of primitive dabbler in some, semi-proficiency in others, near-expert in a very few. Thoughts about my current fixation fills my days, distracts me from work, and teases me when I should be doing other things.
And then…I get sick of whatever it is I have spent so much time digging into and absorbing and I move on to something else. Whatever the obsession was I lose my taste for it. I mean seriously lose it. I feel nauseous even thinking about engaging with it again, sometimes even just encountering it again, like finding a fountain pen at my desk when I’m “off” of them.
A few of these enthusiasms return in full-force, sometimes cyclically. My unhealthy addiction to fine paper, for example, never goes away entirely—at its lowest ebb my devotion would be considered unreasonable by normal people. I return to Origami again and again. Some drop away forever (so far).
I could write a good-sized book of theories explaining why I am this way, from Freudian explanations to simple avoidance, fear of success, and fear in general. But I’m going to confine myself here to a list of unfulfilled accomplishments that stem from these obsessions past and present. A bucket list of goals, some significantly more difficult than others. I know I’ll never achieve most, but the list still says something (many things) about me.
In no particular order:
Do a standup routine at a comedy club open mic.
Visit at least a half-dozen real-life spots that have been theorized to be references in The Odyssey.
Visit the graves of / memorials to: Raymond Carver, Borges, Blake, Shakespeare, Coleridge, Montaigne, Fitzgerald, Cummings, Richard Hugo, Dickinson, Poe, Hemingway, and Jack Gilbert. And David Foster Wallace if it exists and if I could ever find it.
Explore the David Foster Wallace collection at the Harry Ransom Center.
Design my own letterfold.
Break my lifetime bench press record of 220 pounds. Puny, I know.
Win a racquetball tournament.
See a Shakespeare play at the Swan Theatre.
Attend a major Origami convention.
Make handmade paper good enough to use for handmade cards and letters.
Hold a book bound in human skin.
Create a letterpress magazine or collection of tiny poems, fictions, and essays.
Produce an open, annotated edition of Hamlet.
Make my own typeface.
Start a site even remotely comparable to Brain Pickings.