You should never let me become obsessed with you because one day I’ll abruptly exit my own mind like a dolphin popping out of water and in the future if someone asks me about the period of time when I thought about you all the time I’ll shrug and say, “Yeah, I went briefly insane.” But maybe that’s fine? To be honest I wouldn’t worry about it because I don’t think I’m very prone to obsession anymore. I shed one version of it when I was in my teens and now I’m shedding another, and soon I suspect I won’t be particularly obsessive at all. I’ll just be slightly more focused on my hobbies than most people are. I think I’ll miss obsession a lot: it feels better than almost anything except the moments when I’m doing yoga or successfully meditating or on psychedelics when I fall right out of my body and suddenly remember that I’m getting everything right even when I’m getting everything wrong. It’s so intense and heady. It’s hard to explain how much it comforts me.
When I really like something I want to do it over & over. A funny anecdote: I was interested in understanding obsession so I read literally 100 books about it. I think that doing this has actually somehow made me less obsessive?
There’s always a very thin line between a productive obsessive and a wrecked one. The impossibility of always staying on the right side of the line is what has always enthralled me.
Though in 19th century psychiatry monomania was considered a mental disorder it has historically been associated with creativity and achievement.
When I’m not obsessed I have more time to think about my own desires and uneasiness. There’s more space in my mind and therefore my life. This is a good thing but it doesn’t always feel that way.
Haven’t you ever been overtaken by an idée fixe? Isn’t it strange how a single compelling idea or emotion can change your entire life? And isn’t it sad when the idea disappoints you and you’re forced to throw it away?
It’s possible to sustain some obsessions forever. Those obsessions eventually transform to love. But most obsessions are transient, and it’s good that they are. (For ex, I had a few months when I was honest to God obsessed with guinea pigs.)
We don’t get to choose what lasts and what doesn’t. I’ve loved to read since I learned to read and I’ll love it all my life, but there have been other things that I was just as obsessed with that have just slipped away. I didn’t want them to but they did. Personally my obsessiveness has never troubled me, but the fact that my obsessions disappear upsets me a lot.
When I like something I always want to keep liking it. I’m sentimental in that way. But now that I’m becoming less obsessive, maybe I’ll like things less but for longer, and over time I might even like them more. Is that a nice thought? Is it a sad one?
I think I’m becoming a more balanced person and I’m okay with that shift. But I didn’t ask for it and I can’t control it. It’s just happening. Your brain in your 20s is still quite plastic. Personalities change. It’s just that for a long time I was one way and I thought I’d be that way forever. I thought I’d always be someone who was vulnerable to becoming transfixed. I wanted to waste away for love—a very literary concept and therefore appealing. But I think that’s not the way I’m turning out to be.
I’m still not sure how this will go. I’ll let you know, I guess.
What where some of the books you read about it!?
This is a fantastic essay. Thank you so much for writing it!