In defense of obsessions

I’ve always been an obsessive type. Apparently this is just how my brain works, both for good and for ill. I have noticed that the conversation about obsessions often seems to be how to prevent them, or divert people from them, or get people off them. Instead, I am wanting to talk a bit about how obsessing does not have to be bad – and especially about how obsessing does not have to be narrow. And this may be a thinly veiled excuse to talk about one of my obsessions. You know, just maybe.

Let’s say someone is obsessing about, oh I don’t know, crochet. Crochet is a lovely craft that can be quite soothing to do, but it does not have to be ONLY about using a hook to make fabric. I mean, ok, that is it’s primary function, but there can be so much more. Figuring out gauge (making sure whatever it is you’re making turns out the correct size) involves math, typically geometry and algebra. There’s also calculating yards used, sometimes based on weight.

Or maybe that someone wants to exploring designing their own things. On top of the maths there’s creativity and construction, and if they want to share that design there’s learning to properly write it out in a way that other people can understand. Easier said than done.

It’s also possible that maybe they will become curious about making their own yarn. Presto! Now we have learning new skills on how to spin. Which means learning about spinning different sorts of fiber. Which could mean learning about where those fibers come from, geographically, and why they come from those places. Wool isn’t just wool, there’s all sorts of different kinds of wool that behave and feel differently from each other, not to speak of all the non-wool fibers out there.

Then maybe they’ll get curious about how fiber gets prepared and dyed. Then there’s learning both how to turn untreated fiber into something you can spin, and learning how to dye. Which means learning about chemistry, and how different sorts of dyes work on different sorts of fiber.

It also wouldn’t take much to perhaps become curious about the history of fiber crafts – what did people do, how did they do it, how were different regions different and how did the craft(s) change over time?

We just had what started as a simple obsession go over math, history, geography, and science. Yes, it’s certainly an obsession, but it isn’t narrow. I can remember growing up having people try to redirect my obsessions into other things. It never worked particularly well. But as an adult I’m learning that obsessions themselves can be broad enough to get me thinking about all sorts of different things, and just how enjoyable it can be to do that. Let’s celebrate obsessions, and just how thorough they can be!

What obsessions do you have, and how have they contributed to your life?



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3 responses to “In defense of obsessions

  1. ‘Obsession’ is just a derogatory way to say someone’s an expert 😉

  2. Obsessions are excitement, in my opinion, and I love the trails of knowledge they allow for when, as you say, one aspect flows into another, and everything feels so interconnected. And incidentally, if you are in fact the hypothetical person obsessed with yarn, fabric etc, you ought to check out textileranger’s blog if you haven’t already – she writes about exactly those things, with a side of nature.

  3. Pingback: Going back in time | Aspergers and Me