I’ve been reading The Agony and the Ecstasy – the biographical novel of Michelangelo Buonarroti written by Irving Stone. It is a fabulous story of a genius who dedicated his life to the craft he believed was the true form of art and his destiny.
Michelangelo was obsessed with sculpting. He was miserable when he wasn’t able to sculpt and when he would sculpt he would enter in a state of flow that could keep him concentrate and alive for hours with no need to eat or rest.
In a way it feels lucky to have found such an obsession – it gives your life meaning, purpose and you know exactly what makes you happy. It helps you focus and reach the highest forms of mastery. It is thanks to great obsessions that our world evolved as it did.
But obsession can also come with extraordinary limitations. Not allowing you to see the entire beauty around you, to maybe explore other YOUs that might be wonderful. It sometimes requires to sacrifice yourself, to have to go through desperation and despair for those few moments you can be truly happy.
And it is also because of great obsessions that our world faced the most brutal atrocities.
Does it then worth it? Maybe.
In the world we live in today – a world of tremendous amount of possibilities and personal development materials – sometimes I feel it’s beginning to be harder and harder to obsess over anything, as everyday something new appears and steals our focus. Does it mean we’re better? Being more…relaxed and flexible? Being able to find happiness in more things? Maybe.
The key, I believe, like in most things, is balance. Maybe we can use obsessions in our advantage without the need to over do it.
When I want to learn about a subject I try to see it everywhere and connect everything with it. When I wanted to learn about improvisation I tried to find a connection with it in every book I read, in every movie I saw, in every conversation I had. I allowed myself to explore other things, but always kept an open link to my “obsession”. I allowed myself to doubt it, but just enough to strengthen the good things about it. It helped me learn more about it, but without the risk of isolating myself.
Our brains like obsessing about things – this is how our values and our beliefs form – so we might not be able to not have them even if we wanted to. Nobody can say if Michelangelo would live his life the same if he would have the chance – maybe not even he could say if his obsession was indeed the only way he could achieve happiness and mastery or it was just a form of submission.
But what I wish for you in 2016 is to do find an obsession. And to not overly-obess over it! And may it be an year in which you can be happy being the way you are today… and be a better you every day that follows!