I identify myself pretty strongly as an artist- or, maybe more appropriately, a maker of things. In the big picture, it would seem that I don’t much care what it is that I’m working on, so long as I’m working on something. Of course, I go through phases of wanting to do certain things, and those phases can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Here, I singularly cite my intense obsession with weaving keychains out of that plastic lanyard stuff sometimes called RexLace. I haven’t done it in years, but I was all kinds of obsessed with it for a good long while.
Knitting started out as one of those things as well. First, it was just a project here and there, and then it was seasonal (I didn’t really think about it in the summer…) Now, it’s a constant thing. Some of my obsessions stick. Some, like the plastic lanyard project, do not. Thankfully.
I didn’t realize for a long time that I picked up and threw away obsessions quite like that- and it’s not that I don’t like doing the things I later discard- it’s that they’re replaced with more things I haven’t experienced or played with yet. Now that I know it happens, I can make more conscious decisions in deciding what my next obsession will be. For example, right now, I want nothing more than to weave fabric, and then make myself a jacket out of that fabric. I have had this in my head for at least a month- and the fact that it’s lasted that long means it’s probably less than fleeting, and I should act on it. I think of around 10 or 15 things a day (on average), that I would like to try, but sometimes those thoughts are fleeting.
You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. Well, here’s the thing. This morning, I was sitting in my Chemistry class- and it’s a fairly basic course, meant to sort of familiarize us with the material. We were talking about the history/evolution of atomic models, and I was just sitting there, thinking to myself that this was the coolest thing in the world, ever, and that I wanted to be a chemist and do experiments and take notes, and generally smiling in the way that is usually only reserved for entering new yarn shops for the first time.
I really haven’t taken a science class in 4 years or so, and it’s been at least 6 years since the last time I had Chemistry (and it was a very bad experience, but I’ve apparently gotten over it). It’s a pretty new experience for me to feel this way about something that isn’t a little crafty project- or, of course, an art class.
I did some Googling, and came up with the closest word I could find for how I feel- Omniphilia means ‘lover of everything’, and it’s the closest approximation for what I think this is. It’s not, entirely, though- I don’t love everything in the literal sense- I don’t love polyester, and I don’t love acrylic yarn. I certainly don’t love confrontation or arguments or standing in line. But even the things I don’t love have interesting elements to me- the history and invention of synthetic fibers? Although they don’t breathe well, those soft, fuzzy acrylic yarns are derived from the same substance that we get gasoline from. That’s crazy, and it’s beautiful! I may not enjoy confrontation of my own, but I am really interested in how other people behave in those situations.
I don’t have anything transcendental to say about the merits of standing in line. Sorry.
To me, omniphilia is that sort of fascination you get from everyday things, or from connecting with something as you understand its significance to the rest of the world. It’s not the same as optimism, which to me can be most simply equated to an extremely bubbly personality that is so incredibly happy at everything that it just seems fake. Omniphilia is just that complete, unabashed sense of amazement at the world and all the things you can do or learn in it. I don’t quite know how to explain it.
So. That was the omniphilia section. The second part is about indecision.
If I love everything so much, how can I pick just one thing to do with my life? One path? What if I choose something and it ends up to be a temporary obsession and in a few years I end up throwing it away in the closet next to the plastic lanyard supplies? I am having such a problem trying to find something that I am confident I will still like after I’ve been doing it for a few years.
The other part of that problem is that I am having such a hard time choosing one item from the list of things I think that I will still like after I’ve been doing them for a few years. They’re all in different directions, like Robert Frost’s poem about the fork in the path- ‘the road less traveled’, or something similar.
How do I know, if I decide to go into art restoration (the current topper on the list), that I won’t then regret it a few years down the road and wish I’d become an illustrator? Or a costume designer for movies?
If I love all of these things, and quite possibly many more things in the future, how can it be that I must only choose one, and how will I know it’s the right one?