Sometimes you just get obsessed. Sometimes this is flow, the zen state, in the zone, and your work is going well. But sometimes it might just be fascination and the puzzle of whatever you’re focused on, but that doesn’t get you anywhere. It’s a long thread on social media that keeps going in circles. It’s day-to-day coverage of politics.
It’s rarely necessary, but it’s addictive. If it keeps you from working on your thing, it’s probably better to treat it like a momentary thought in meditation practice. Notice, then let it go.
It does sound easier than it seems. The secret to meditation practice, though, is that you aren’t judging the distraction. You’re just noticing it exists. It’s okay that it comes back. We’re patient.
Acknowledge the obsession, then turn back to the thing you make. Repeat as needed.
Keep to the things you can’t let go of, the obsessions you latch onto. The music, the films, the art—the fragments on any one of those or something else, that live and passion for some aspect of the creative work of others gives you chunks of raw material to mix into your own work.
This is where work comes from. It’s the seeds of inspiration that always wait, whether we feel like working or not, whether we’re ready or not, whether we think we’re good enough or not.
I haven’t finished this post until now because I got so into the Yes song “Starship Trooper” that I had to listen, not just to the whole thing, but specifically the section after “/Disillusion,” really just a cascading series of “aahs” that Anderson, Squire, and whomever decided to haunt me with. I have no idea how it’ll come through, but it will, somewhere.
Don’t resist your artistic obsessions, enjoy them as deeply as you can. They fertilize and feed your own stuff.
Ever since I mentioned wanting to listen to the new Steve Perry album on the podcast this week (advance spoiler: it’s okay), I’ve been thinking about how I’ve liked the band since 1981, when Escape came out, which was one of the first rock albums I bought for myself. I know, I had a somewhat sheltered musical upbringing.
I’ve had a lot of friends over the years raise an eyebrow or two when they find out, and say something like, “Dude, you like Journey? But you’re into metal and prog and ambient…” True, but one likes what one likes, and I don’t believe in guilty pleasures.
So. Rather than some windy exposition detailing them, here’s this obsessive trifle:
5. The beginning of “Anytime” 4. The end of the first verse of “Good Morning Girl: “I see your eyes shining through/Those gentle eyes silver blue/Good morning girl” 3. Near the end of “Escape,” a series of C to ringing Gadd9 chords on the extended vocal of “stay” 2. In “Faithfully,” the syncopation of “Two strangers learn to fall in love again” 1. The last 10 a cappella seconds of “Girl Can’t Help It”
Bonus: “Only Solutions,” which can’t go on that list—the whole song is my favorite one.
It seems like we get put down for carrying on a brief obsession with something, but it can be a reason to get familiar with something new or to experience something familiar with new eyes and ears.
My current is above, of course. The bass sound is gorgeously full, the slapback echo on the vocal is almost haunting, but still charming, and the melody and lyrics themselves are fun and earwormy. I hear something new almost ever re-listen, which is amazing. Now. How to apply this obsession to something I’m doing.
About the Author
Marcus is a maker of things and thoughts. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon.