The Complicated and Awkward Relationship Between Passion And Ownership

Okay, maybe that title is a little misleading. For the most part, the relationship between passion and ownership is fairly straightforward. If you are passionate about something (be it an object or something  a little more abstract), and the opportunity arises, you take ownership of that thing. Like me and writing, The Dude and computer games/rugby/sci-fi movies, Little Person and painting.

We bought her one of those fairly cheap easels from Ikea last week. It was something we had meant to do for a while, knowing that she enjoys painting and drawing and such like, but we had always found reasons not to do it. (What if scenarios involving mess, tantrums and such like, as well as more practical concerns like where would we put it.) Turns out we had underestimated her passion for painting.

There has been very little mess. There has been no tantrums. There has been no Mummy-I-don’t-want-to-clean-up-you-do-it. There’s not even been a problem when she made a mistake with her painting. She knows that it’s her easel, and her paints, and she needs to keep it tidy. She has taken ownership of the opportunity. And yes, she has used the opportunity to paint some of her toys as well. But who wouldn’t? Allowing Little Person the space to express her passion, and take ownership of it, has made parenting her that much easier.

Of course, the pathway between passion and ownership is not always as simple as somebody putting an easel up in your bedroom so you can paint. Sometimes the passion burns without an outlet. And you want to create an outlet, but that seems like more trouble than it’s worth. Sometimes you have to take ownership of the thing, without the least amount of passion for it. What to do when you are given an easel, and you don’t like painting?

You could turn it into a signpost (“My name is Bob and I don’t like Easels”). You could get another one and use them as the legs for a trestle table. You could put it in the cupboard to collect dust, or give it to somebody who says they like easels. Or you could let it be known that you have the easel, and some paints, and if anyone wants to have a go at painting, they are more than welcome to try. Help other people find and/or express their passion in a safe environment.

If your ownership and your passion don’t match up, get creative. Find different ways to express your passion, and different ways to use whatever you have ownership of. Neither passion nor ownership are your entire identity, anymore than painting is all that Little Person is about.

It’s just that when both are pulling in the same direction, sometimes beautiful things can happen.

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