Since young adulthood I have had the same set of five recurring enthusiasms: music making, writing comic fiction, investing, exercising, and studying religion. Over and over I have beguiled myself with these activities throughout the years. My pattern is to take up one of these enthusiasms, pursue it with great energy and focus for many months, and then set it aside for a year or more. The result has been a patchwork life of intermittent dabbling, a dilettante's buffet of inconsequential amusements.
Right now, after many years of absence, music making and studying religion have returned to get a grip on me. Every evening I practice my ragtime pieces on the old piano in the basement. Every night before bed I read a chapter from Martyn Lloyd-Jones's bracing collection of sermons entitled Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. And I can feel the early stirrings of the return of my investing enthusiasm. I purchased a used textbook on investment psychology last night from Amazon. A fit of stock buying and selling will probably be upon me by late summer, if my moods and urges run true to form.
My enthusiasms for comic writing and exercising are dormant at present. My comic writing enthusiasm sputtered out last summer after I wrote a parody of a 1930s detective story. (Now there's a literary sub-genre of miniscule popular interest!) Today as I look at my bookshelf full of collections of comic short stories and essays--a full six feet of the best humor from England, Ireland, Canada, and the United States--I feel not the slightest impulse to put pencil to paper. I can't think of anything funny, witty, or even whimsical. Life is dry as dust. I have one lone writerly post-it note stuck to the bookcase. The note outlines an idea that seemed clever to me several months ago, something about applying early twentieth-century propaganda techniques within the narrative of a fairy tale. At the moment, the cleverness of this idea totally escapes me.
Given my expanding physique, it is apparent that my exercising enthusiasm is long overdue. Unless I have a health scare or feel a special need to make a favorable impression on a rich widow, this particular enthusiasm may not reawaken until a few months before my next high school reunion in 2014.