Love the life you live. Live the life you love. – Bob Marley
When my maternal grandfather passed away in 1998, he was still active and exploring a new passion: he was enrolled in a community college class on computer aided design. It wasn’t the first such class he’d taken, nor were computers the only interest he pursued. In his younger years his hobbies included beekeeping and carpentry. In his later years they included various computer classes as well as working on a memoir. By trade he had started out in computers back when they were so large they took up whole rooms. Later in his life he owned a print shop. The passions he pursued outside of his everyday life were things he loved. One time, near his unexpected death, he told me that pursuing new interests and learning new things kept him young. Quoting Albert Einstein, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”
I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious. – Albert Einstein
In a year dedicated to living intentionally month-by-month, this month’s focus is my favorite so far. Taken straight out of Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project, this month’s intention is also the most self-indulgent to-date: to pursue a new passion!
Who has ever said they have a great idea for a novel? I have! Recently, actually. In May of this year, my aunt was taken to the hospital for an “accidental” poisoning that I and the rest of my family don’t believe was in any way accidental. I’ve learned more about ethylene glycol (antifreeze), chain of evidence and ineffectual police investigations than I ever imagined I’d know. In keeping with the adage “truth is stranger than fiction,” the thriller inspired by the totally insane, real life events surrounding that day has practically written itself in my brain. Now it’s time to put the peddle to the metal, so to speak.
Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
November is National Write a Novel Month. Yep, that’s a real thing. Started in 1999, NaNoWriMo now boasts more than 300,000 participants each November. After signing up, each aspiring novelist is faced with the Herculean task of completing the first draft of a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That length is actually on the short side, but is on par with notable novels like The Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby. Some NaNoWriMo participants have gone on to see their work published; most tuck their partially completed manuscripts away.
Writing isn’t foreign to me – I’ve kept journals since my teen years and have written for theatre before. But I’ve never attempted to write a novel. It’s equal parts daunting and thrilling. The greatest challenge for me, I think, is going to be letting go of my inner critic. The urge to spend days rewriting the same passage over and over must be resisted if the goal is to be achieved! In order to hit the 50,000 word goal, one must write 1,666 words per day. That’s the equivalent of a 7-page essay every day for a month.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain
There will be some who read this and think “Gee, that must be nice. I have obligations and could never do that.” Yeah, so do I. So did my grandfather. But we all know we make time for the things that matter to us – be they people or passions. Life is short! Get out and try something new you’ve always wanted to do!