Doug Bruns

In closing…

In Curiosity, Happiness, Life, Memoir, Writing on October 20, 2012 at 6:00 am

Behold the dangerous beauty of obsession!

My life can be easily reduced to phases, measured by degrees of obsession. These phases link to interests, which are sparked by curiosity. I do not know how to be interested in something without being obsessed by it. Obsession and it’s odd opposite twin, Discipline, have been my brightest marching outposts. My capacity to sustain pace is, however, inelastic and, pushed to the limit, fails me. Then, just like that, everything stops. Let me give you an example.

Several years ago I became interested in the classical guitar. I took lessons, went to workshops, sat in on master classes at a world-reknown conservatory. I studied music theory, took classes in composition. I played in recitals, practiced for hours. A guitarist grows long nails on the right hand to pluck the nylon strings of the guitar. One day, out of the blue, I cut my nails and put away the guitar and never played it again.

This pattern has repeated itself for years. Some passions–for that is what they are–last years, some only months. Some are still born and buried the next day.

That, friends, is the position in which I now find myself. I sense the nascent hankering to move on and redirect my laser-view of life. The blog, this house I live in, is on the wan. I trust you understand. You must know me by now, you know I can’t help myself. I figured I owed you a head’s up.

But before I go, please allow me to do something I have tried to not do. I don’t like to give advice. As a writer, I try to practice the old dictum, show, don’t tell. But let me tell you something now that we are going to be seeing less of one another. (“Parting ways” is such a strong and definite phrase–I just can’t go there.)

Let me tell you that life is the adventure–or lack thereof–that you make of it, as trite as that sounds. My flitting from obsession to obsession might appear random and ultimately meaningless; but the reality is that I encourage life to tickle my curiosity. I have trained myself to conform to the nature of my curiosity. There is a great natural harmony to be experienced in such a practice. If I am curious about the classical guitar, I will throw myself into it. I become a musician. If I am curious about the literature of David Foster Wallace, I throw myself into his work. I become a critic. Want to know what sunrise looks like in Nepal? Me too, let’s go, let’s become adventurers! Reinvent yourself over and over. Pursue the contrary, avoid the ruts. Stay interested–and interesting. Nurture curiosity. Allow yourself the freedom to embrace wholly, as well as relinquish freely.

Let us consider how to live, to paraphrase Thoreau. The terms of my consideration are different from yours. But consider we must! There is no greater challenge, no richer reward, than to carve from the marble of life a vision specific to one’s nature. A life well-lived is the greatest art. Become an artist.

  1. Beautiful!! One of your best. XO

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Where am I going? Physically going nowhere. But non-physical parts of me, mind, imagination, energy, have already left the depot with a full head of steam.

      Thanks for reading–and the note.

  2. I know you deserve the rest, but your fans will miss you greatly. I wish I had kept a list of all the topics you covered which affected me directly. Things like:

    — books you recommended (including dear Moby Dick whose image you selected above),
    — extra walks in the woods I took (now listening for bird songs),
    — characters you introduced (like Montaigne whose book of essays I discussed at last week’s book group at Longfellow),
    — social issues (like raising my consciousness about the homeless and taking steps to help),
    — adventure travel tales you shared,
    — photography you exhibited,
    — touching and humorous family stories you told (the wedding toast would have been a tough one to top!)

    Good luck with your next interest-binge and remember we will all be here waiting for you if you ever want to return.

    PS: Aren’t you at least going to publish your list of Books of 2012?

    • Such a list! Such kind words!

      Thanks for being such stalwart fan of the blog–and such a supportive friend.

      Like finite matter in the universe our energies just don’t stop, they get redirected. I love the gut-rumbling of these moments of reinvention. (Such an American concept, this invention business.)

      I’m glad I was able to occasionally provoke your curiosity, as you did mine. Let the sprite of curiosity never lose her energy.

      Best. D

      And perhaps a 2013 reading list will surface, albeit a short one.

  3. “life is the adventure–or lack thereof–that you make of it…” Yes, and thank you for the nudges in that direction as well as the peeks into your adventures. I hope to cross paths with you and Carole again.

    • Thanks for being such a fan and supporter of the blog, Amy. And our paths had better cross again someday. Until then, see your avatar-self on FB.
      Thanks for the note.

  4. Doug,
    We missed you & Carole last night…and I will definitely miss the blog.
    You’ve made me think & raised my game.
    Please let us know about the next adventure.
    Craig & Pam

    • Carole was out of town for three weeks attending to her ailing mother. She got home last night and we went out to catch up. Sorry to have missed you guys at the dinner.

      Thanks for being such a supporter of the blog. It really made a difference to me. I’m glad you found it occasionally edifying. For me, as an exercise in thinking out loud, it was extremely beneficial.

      Next adventure? Not sure. I got my Maine Guide’s license last week. Perhaps I will go into the north woods and build a compound for me and the community of survivors after the zombie apocalypse. Don’t you think the license will lend me an air of credibility? Of course they, the zombies, will hit Camden right after Portland. Rest assured, since you’re a friend I’ll keep a bunk for you and Pam at the ready.

      Thanks for the note.

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