Sunday, February 22, 2015


Something occurred to me while I was taking a shower this evening. It was almost a daydream. I was imagining looking for a specific type of service person by emailing some mailing list, and then having to apologize because I didn't know more about this particular industry. This one thought lead my brain off on its own.

We all know that time in life is short. And there is no lack of things that we can learn about, study, research, become an expert (or even amateur) in. And I wish we had a word for describing those particular things I have chosen to be interested in as opposed to all the other, equally valid to be interested in.

"Interests" sort of seems to describe it. But that's not quite what I'm getting at here. Think of the "causes" you care about. For me, it's probably the death penalty (i.e., repealing it in the US) and the environment. Many of my friends care deeply about poverty, and women's rights. Don't I care about poverty?! I certainly believe that I do. But I have not studied them, I do not generally consume all articles about them, and most importantly I often don't know enough to have strong opinions about, say what should be done to help those in need in my city.

A lot of my coworkers have spent a lot of time learning about home repair, or stereos or electronics. I think those are all valid things to be interested in, but I know almost nothing. If I want to buy a new stereo, I just ask one of these people and more or less buy exactly what they tell me. Or decide that the good ones are too expensive, and give up.

This is, I think, totally normal. There's only so many things you can invest yourself in passionately. And there's opportunity cost to everything you choose to do.

Going back to the title of this article, there's probably a German word to describe what I mean, but no English one. And I truly think that's a shame, since in many ways life is all about choosing which things to focus on at the exclusion of other, equally valid, equally important things. 


  1. I seem to have stumbled upon your blog...and although my comment is latish, this post is timely, as for a while I've been agonizing over which of my many interests and hobbies to start focusing on. It's a solace being reminded that one's not alone.

    Oh, and are you THAT is a German word? If so, surely it'd be the longest in the world! I googled it, but was redirected to your blog (having not read it on there in the first place, I'd have thought this's a sly trick by you!). Anyhow, I can make out what seems like the German for "concentrate" at the beginning...

    1. I'm not exactly sure what you mean, but you don't seem to be posting spam, so thanks for that!

      And you're right, I just made up the word. :-)