Avoiding Rabbit Holes
Any sort of "connoiseurship," which might be described as an extreme
knowledgeability and affection for a certain subject or practice, is a
potential "rabbit hole" down which one could descend quite far if one allows it.
And the internet often makes that hole deeper and, shall we say,
smoother, all the time. Easier to fall in, easier to fall down it, both further and faster. It might be also possible that just as there are addictive personalities, there might also be personalities that tend to do this (is this the same as obsessive-compulsive?) - not about just a single interest, but that are more susceptible to getting geeky about any specialized area. Because "geekiness" is another word for this, isn't it - either geekiness or its dark twin, hipsterism. Hipsters differ from geeks in that they want to use their obsessions as ways to set themselves apart, to show themselves as being better or different than others, whereas geeks want to share and teach as a way of creating communities and connections.
If one is a part of that type that is apt to really "geek out" on things, one must often be careful which rabbits holes to dive into and which to avoid, like potholes in a poorly-maintained road. Priorities must be decided on. I received a fancy fountain pen recently. It came with no instructions or direction, as it was my father's, custom made for him by a friend. Over the last couple of weeks I spent a few hours just researching what ink to use, where to get it, and what else I might need to operate the thing (were certain thinners or cleaners required? etc etc.) I finally procured some ink yesterday and tried it out last night. It was kind of difficult and not that satisfying to use, at first. I wondered if I was doing something wrong. I wondered if I needed to read more about how to write with a fountain pen, or watch tutorials on YouTube. Certainly there were people out there that were very much connoiseurs, like this guy:
But not only did I wonder what I might be doing wrong, and what it would take to do it right, but I was wise enough (if I might be so immodest, I think I've experienced this kind of think enough to know when it's coming on again) to have the meta-realization that I was on the edge of one of those rabbit holes, and ask myself: "is there a way for me to get satisfactory use out of this pen, without becoming a connoisseur, a geek, about yet another thing?" Because really, I think filmmaking, music, brewing beer, roasting coffee, and the pile of other interests I'm into, are probably enough right now.
I did not need, or even want, another obsession.
And so I avoided getting that into it, only watching parts of a couple of instructional videos. And this morning when I sat down to write in my journal with the pen, it wrote more nicely, and I started feeling better about it. I think I can use it, and like it, without needing to climb some crazy learning curve and perfect some new skill. And if I had to do that, I can stand to just let the pen sit unused in a drawer. I do feel a certain extra responsibility, because it was my father's - like I am obliged to use it, because it was something he was into. But he was also very into ham radio, astronomy, and not eating vegetables, none of which are interests I share or feel obliged to emulate. So I really think it will be easy to resist going nuts over fountain pens. Especially because it seems to be working pretty well now.
I consider this an important success, steering around that rabbit/pot hole, and realizing the larger phenomenon of the journey of life, that is, the road strewn with potholes.