Where do you draw the line?
Is passion a positive emotion and obsession a negative one?
If I told you about my friend who spends hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds a year on their passion. That their week is centered around when and who they can get it with. That holidays are centered around getting their fix. That there’s almost a whole new language created for it. That their meals and snacks are planned around it. That the majority of their bookcase is full with literature about it. That they can be talking so in depth you no longer have a clue what they’re on about. Their vehicle is chosen because of it. That their wardrobe is often dictated by it.
Sound familiar. It could well be heroin, or perhaps…..climbing. I know I spend what could be called ‘insane’ amounts of money on racks and climbing paraphernalia. My holidays are centred around when and where I can climb. My bookshelf consists of guidebooks and climbing literature. My mother often smiles and nods along when I’m telling her how amazing this splitter was, but the jams where so painful by the 7th pitch and I obtained a painful flapper. I can happily sit with my rack, a bowl of warm water, a toothbrush, WD40 and some new electrical tape and give my rack an MOT. I’d call a good day out when your fingertips can no longer handle any type of pressure, or when you make it back to your car after having spent the majority of it in a sweating, shivering cycle while having spindrift creep down your neck all day. I can read guidebooks cover to cover making mental tick lists while my partner looks on…I would call it passion.
I am nowhere near the most dedicated either. I don’t have a structured training regime or diet to support my body through training. I don’t train…at all. I don’t travel to far and distant places (unless Norway and Morocco count). I don’t own a converted van. I would still these call people passionate.
Where do you cross the line from passionate into obsession? When you can’t give it up? When you feel you have to keep doing it regardless? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “An idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes a persons mind”.
By the dictionary definition I would class myself on bordering obsessed then. I would say the ‘continually’ part doesn’t apply to me…but every day climbing will pop into my head. When I see cracks in the stone wall and wonder what grade it would go at, when you turn on Face Book and see pictures of everyone’s winter climbing adventures and get psyched or when your girlfriends strike up a conversation about MIC and you instantly think of the Mountaineering Instructor Certificate rather than Made in Chelsea (although maybe that’s a good thing!).
Many of my climbing partners would defiantly fit into that category of ‘obsessed’ yet I look up to them with envy and admiration for their dedication to the lifestyle.
Obsession is often synonymous with the negative. Maybe obsession over some things isn’t bad. Can you be at the top of a field without being obsessed. Can you win a gold medal at the Olympics, free solo big walls or climb 9b without obsession? Can you be obsessed without passion? Surely people like Alex Honnold, Ulei Steck and Hazel Findlay along with Jessica Ennis, Michael Phelps and Arnold Schwartzneggear aren’t at the top of their games from luck…they are where they are because of complete dedication to their field, that’s passion….but perhaps also obsession.
So maybe being obsessed over some stuff isn’t so bad.