Wow—has it really been nine months since I’ve last posted here? Well thank you all for hanging in there. I can’t say that I’ll return to a regular posting schedule but I’ll definitely try to keep the gap between posts much smaller next time.
In the last line of the last post I wrote, I joked about going to get school supplies instead of writing supplies. The joke was on me because this past January, I actually started classes again. I’ll admit that the idea was on my mind last August, but I ended up being surprised at the direction I’m taking: it’s not related to writing. I was sure I was headed back for an MFA in writing; had even narrowed down my top school choices, including one that a few friends attend and readily endorse. And yet… And yet I felt pulled in another direction.
It worried me. And why shouldn’t it? It seemed that I was walking away from my chosen path. Again. And this time, I was walking away from the writing identity that was the way I’d been defining myself to everyone (including myself) for the past few years. Even if I was going back to a path I thought I’d left behind for good, I was still abandoning my writing. But was I…
As I near 40, I finally have enough years behind me that I can look back and realize that I’m actually not leaving my passions behind when I switch from one to another; that I rotate through them. Barbara Sher, author of Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams, calls people with multiple passions, “scanners.” She says these people can’t pick just one thing. (Yes!) That they find too much to get excited about in life; too much to delve into and explore. (Yes, yes, and yes!) More specifically, she breaks down scanners into different subcategories.
If I remember the definitions right (I have the book somewhere, but after I moved, books just got thrown on shelves with only a passing attempt at categorization), I’m both a sequential scanner and a cyclical scanner. That is, I have interests that I dive into, full of a nearly all-consuming passion—until I’ve lost interest, and then I’m DONE. Just done. I sell or give away the books and supplies and I rarely look back.
But then there are those other passions I cycle through; the ones I always come back to, months or years later. My lifelong passions. Writing is one of those. It’s always been with me, whether it was hovering in the background or taking center stage, it was always there. Right now, it’s in the background and will continue there while I continue with classes. Then—scary thought—then I might give classes a break while I dive back into my writing. Or maybe I’ll find the next big passion to explore or maybe… Deep breath. As I said, scary thoughts.
I started journaling again a few weeks ago. Even if it’s only to vent out the small stuff to clear my head and emotions, it’s got my pen moving again. (I never could stick with Julia Cameron’s three Morning Pages, but I still think it’s a fantastic practice.) Then, when I’m in the right place, I’ll polish up one of my manuscripts and get it out of the house. For now though, journaling is my writing and that’s more than enough.
If, like me, you have multiple passions, if you don’t have just one driving life goal, check out Barbara Sher’s book. You can listen to her talking about scanners here on YouTube too.
Also check out Margaret Lobenstine’s book The Renaissance Soul: How to Make Your Passions Your Life—A Creative and Practical Guide. She refers to people with multiple interests as “Renaissance Souls”, a label I’m quite content with. After starting her book and starting to realize that it really was okay for me to have multiple passions, I scheduled a coaching call with her. She was a lovely, warm woman whose adroit questioning and clever ideas helped me to see how best to balance my passions so I saw progress and didn’t feel so overwhelmed. I just looked up her site and saw that sadly, she passed away in her sleep a little more than a week before my last post. After reading her obituary, I wish I could have heard more about her “Renaissance Soul” life directly from her. RIP, Margaret.
Alright that’s all for tonight. Thanks again for sticking around. Would love to hear your thoughts on this if being multipassionate (or a Renaissance Soul) is something you resonate with.