I’m a pretty passionate person. If I’m committed to something, I won’t do it half-heartedly, I’ll immerse myself in it, go to extremes, read about it constantly, and drive everyone around me crazy by talking about it incessantly (surely you long time readers of this blog have noticed this.) :) But all that passion has a downside…
My life has no (apparent) direction.
I’ve left thousands of projects in the wake of my passions, jumped from hobby to hobby and pursued several would-be vocations. My husband has supported me in word and deed and finances over and over again for countless interests that have, eventually, fizzled out and seemingly come to nothing.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about this tendency of mine to start something and run a hundred miles with it before eventually putting it down and never looking back. As anyone who spends more than five minutes at a time with me knows, I’m pretty stoked about this whole running thing right now. I want the kids to run with me, I want to try out different running equipment and clothes and shoes (or just shuck them altogether in favor of running barefoot! ;) ) I want to improve my times and my distance, I want to try trail running and running in the mountains and running on the sand. I want to swim and bike and do triathlons. And, just like everything else, all of this comes at a cost – both a financial cost and a cost of time. So I wonder… is it worth it? Especially for something that, given my history and track record, I may not be nearly as interested in a few years from now?
Today I read something that made me smile, and I felt as if God were tapping me on the shoulder, whispering in my ear, saying “Go for it! All those passions you have, all the differing things you’re interested in that don’t seem to add up to anything consistent? They’re part of my plan for you.”
It’s a quote from Steve Jobs and I found it on the Maple Grove Barefoot Guy’s website (I know, I know… doesn’t that just illustrate my point, nicely?! I’m obsessed, I tell you!) This is a quote from Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement address:
“Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
It’s true that I’m still seeking balance in my life. It’s true that I need to be more disciplined about a great many things. But I think it’s also true that all these varying passions, all the crazy schemes and plans I get wrapped up in… they’re all a part of something much, much bigger than anything I can see right now. My husband and I were talking the other night and I was thanking him, once again, for all the support he has given me over the years, and over such a great span of interests I’ve pursued during our life together. He said something that summed up our relationship perfectly. Humbly, he said:
“I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do. I’m giving you an environment where you can thrive.”
I don’t know where it’s all going to lead, but I’m convinced that God is going to “connect the dots” somewhere exciting and wonderful, and we’re going to look back on times like these and smile… at my “flightiness,” and my husband’s unyielding love and support that has enabled me to thrive.