I’ve been thinking. I have the goal, dream, and desire to write a book about the distorted views around virtues. About the way developing emotional maturity frees us. About thinking differently and more deeply about our behavior and to look at what’s driving our actions. About the value in self-confrontation. About what makes our actions virtuous and what depletes the same action of virtue. About actions that are morally courageous. I like thinking about that.
My husband, when he has a day off, loves to head for the mountains. Hiking, backpacking, skiing, walks with our dog, exploring, trail running. Being in the mountains fills him. I don’t know a better word in the English language to use expect for hobby. It’s a hobby of his. I don’t like the word hobby because it seems to minimize it and turn it into something that is superficial and lacks great meaning and purpose. I use the word hobby because it is something that he is naturally drawn to and is very fulfilling, satisfying, energizing, meaningful, and makes him a better person.
In a similar sense, writing and thinking about these topics is my hobby. It’s my mountains. I love it. I look forward to it. I make time and room for it in my week. I love to sit and think and ask questions and talk to others and hear other’s perspectives. I love to discuss and look deeper. I love to study and find connections and see something new or remember something for awhile ago. But I noticed something that’s getting in the way. A part of my thinking that I’m just un-surfacing that is limiting me.
A lot of times, I find ways to justify my interests. Most recently I realize that I am justifying my interest to deepen my understanding of virtues and human behavior by declaring that I putting all my efforts and time into writing a book. It’s like I’m telling myself that if I’m going to put time into these interest of mine, I better have something to legitimize that time like writing a book. But what if I decided not to write a book, would it still be legitimate to spend time thinking and writing and interviewing others on these topics? What if in the end I had nothing, like a book, to show for all my efforts, would it still be legitimate to spend so much of my time and my life trying to understand these concepts?
What if someone decided to go to school and get a degree but had no intentions of ever “using” that particular degree, but in part wanted to get a degree in that specific field because they were drawn to the subject and wanted to deepen their knowledge and skills around that particular subject? Would that be pointless? Would that be legitimate?
The first few minutes of the following video show the time-lapse of artist painting a 50 foot mural. It’s amazing. Can you image if we had a time laps of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel? What this artist does is remarkable. After I watched it, I wondered, did this artist say to himself when he was just getting started with painting that one day he’d wanted to paint a mural for a major religious place of worship? It’s possible. Maybe this opportunity was the fulfillment of a life long dream and goal. But did he have to have that goal in order to legitimize all the years and hours and training of painting? What if he painted all his life, beautiful painting like this, murals like this, and never had the chance to paint a mural for a temple? Would all those years and all that time put into painting be vain and worthless?
I would imagine that an artist hopes that their art can touch another soul. That their work can have a meaningful impact on someone. That it can bring beauty, meaning, and purpose. At least that is my desire. That my “art” can impact the lives of others for the better. And I think that is a worthy desire, but is the practicing of my “art” only legitimate if I have something to show for it like a book, or a blog, or workshops, or painting in the Sistine Chapel? That’s what I’ve been thinking about lately…