If My Little Pony can make life more meaningful, why not playing guitar?
Although I'm hard pressed to understand the allure, there are an estimated 26.6 million “bronies" in the United States. According to the Rebel Circus blog, somewhere between 4 percent and 6.8 percent of the internet-using male U.S. population “strongly identify as 'bronies.'" For the uninitiated, bronies are grown men obsessed with My Little Pony. Maybe if I attend BronyCon this year, I'll get hooked, don a rainbow wig and tail, and trip the light fantastic, but for now, that obsession remains a mystery.
However, I bet any brony couldn't imagine not being really, really, really into My Little Pony. You cannot explain an obsession to the non-obsessed. Por ejemplo, my cousin Tony is a high-I.Q. man of the world who owns an upscale bar (the Atlas) and an equally upscale penthouse in Little Rock, Arkansas. Strangely enough, although Tony has not mowed a lawn for years (if ever), he has an obsession with riding lawnmowers. I'm pretty sure Tony has never owned a riding lawnmower, but he has attended a riding lawnmower convention. I asked him why, but rather than explain his mower mania, he just talked about the tight turning radius of a few of his favorite models. Obsessions do not require reasons. That's why they are obsessions.
People who are consumed with a child's cartoon or a yard tool are perhaps a bit odd, but I get it. The heart wants what it wants. What I don't understand are all those people who are not into anything, which has become so common of late. We live in this passionless age, where it seems like half the population spends the majority of their free time joylessly scrolling through their phones, double-tapping hearts on photos of celebrities, cats, sandwiches, and what-have-you. In this listless world, you have to admire people with a genuine passion for anything. I would so much rather be a raging brony than obsession free.
Here's why you should be obsessed:
• Obsessions make you feel alive.
• Obsessions give you energy.
• When you're obsessed, you stop wondering what you're doing with your life and fully focus on the moment.
• Obsessions are fulfilling, yet, paradoxically, you can never get enough.
• Obsessions give you purpose.
As Mark Twain said, “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out what your purpose is." Purpose, driven by obsessions, can help us develop into our most capable version of ourselves. Nobody ever achieved greatness without a passion driven by obsession.
When I was a guitar-obsessed teenager, I read every guitarist interview I could find. No easy task pre-web. This was the early '80s, when semi-androgynous yet strangely testosterone-driven rock guitarists would often say, “I started playing guitar to meet chicks." Even as a stupid kid, I recognized this as bullshit. I get that, at times, many of us go to some ridiculous lengths to meet potential sexual partners. But add up all the hours perusing Tinder, going to bars or parties, or out on dates. This wasted time does not come close to the amount of time and energy that goes into making your first F and B7 chords. These famous guitar players played well and had solid careers because they were obsessed with music—specifically guitar—and they put in the hours to achieve excellence.
So why the ruse? Perhaps the tight spandex and makeup in the dark ages of homophobia made them feel like they had to assert their unwavering hetero core. Maybe they were afraid to show that they cared so much about their art, so they downplayed their passion and played it cool. But cool is conservative fear, dressed in black. Fuck cool.
The other night, while my 2-year-old daughter slept, I played guitar literally until the sun came up. I knew Bette would wake up between 6:30 and 7 a.m., and I would feel rough all day chasing her around, but I couldn't stop. Obsessions can be an intoxicating therapy, and right then, that's what I needed more than sleep.
There may be an afterlife—heaven, hell, Valhalla, reincarnation, limbo, purgatory, paradise, Jannah, Barzakh, Summerland, yadda-yadda—but the only sure thing is the here and now. Find your passion and you'll find your purpose, which makes life that much more beautiful. And as Pablo Picasso said, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." Purposeless people live lives of quiet desperation. Do not go quietly. Make some noise.