Monday, August 15, 2011

less is more, more often lately than not

The other day I stood in my local Michaels in the candlemaking aisle, not for the first time, pondering the supplies I would need to begin making some large, fancy candles for my home. I had fond memories of making candles in school many years ago, and at all once it just seemed like such a fun thing to do. Gazing at the blocks of wax, packages of wick, scents, tints, molds, mold releases...

And suddenly I remembered what I already knew: I have enough hobbies already. Enough. No more room, no more time for this when I already know what I really love to do.

Narrowing down.

When I was younger, it was all about MORE. More stuff, more activities, what more could I take on, the gathering of options in an endless life adventure. Grow my own herbs, speak a half dozen languages, learn Irish dance, sing the Hallelujah Chorus... the grand and limitless adventure of life.

While I'm not sealing off all such doors forever, as I approach age 60 its best that I focus most of my energy on certain things: my home and friends, and my community and spiritual pursuits, and my fiction writing and my doll designs, and my online groups, and my artwork and and reading and gardening. This is more than enough, and as it is, I'll never have the time to finish everything that interests me in these areas.

It can, truth be known, be a bit sad to realize we can't do everything in our overstuffed bag of dreams. But it's good to remind ourselves that more often than not, less really is more-- that is, fewer scattered interests make it more feasible for us to actually reach some cherished goals. Then we can have a different kind of joy-- the joy of excellence of accomplishment that only comes from focusing our energies like a laser beam.

It makes no sense for me to take on a big new hobby or project, particularly when it takes up time, space, and money I need for my more cherished pursuits. We live finite lives. New pursuits can be a kind of self-sabotage. It makes no sense for me to learn to, say, throw pots when I have a workshop full of fabric for doll designs just waiting to come to life... my real passion. It's crazy to spend hours fussing with my vintage clothing collection when I have a book nearly finished. I can't be the next J. K. Rowling if I get bogged down trying to be Martha Stewart.

Sure, it's fun to occasionally play at the many things that interest us. I might still indulge in a Learn to Speak Japanese CD one rainy morning, or play around with some yarn and a crochet hook for a relaxing hour in front of the television. But more and more often, I'm learning just what areas should get most of my efforts... those pursuits that mean the most in the Big Picture.

Choices. Funneling down. Simplifying. Focusing.

Maybe it's an age thing.