Thursday, October 14, 2010


There is a well known outdoors related business who uses the phrase “It’s not a passion; it’s an obsession” to describe their dedication to the hunting lifestyle and the pursuit of creating the best products they can for their customers.

The dictionary defines obsession as follows: “the domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.”

Obsession, as defined by our culture, is a bit darker than the dictionary defines it. Anyone who recalls the movie “Fatal Attraction” instantly recalls the gut level reaction to the obsession portrayed there.

Then there are the countless stories about obsessed fans stalking the objects of their affections. Recall the case of John Hinckley Jr., who attempted to assassinate a President Ronald Reagan to earn the attention of actress Jodie Foster.

For all of its dark implications though, is there perhaps a redeeming quality in obsession? To the artist, it can be the catalyst to a masterpiece. To the business owner, it can be the secret to financial independence. To the coach, it is a championship season. Obsession can therefore, describe someone of singular focus, pursuing their definition of success.

Recently my wife was asked to describe me in a single word. The word she used was "obsessed"; especially as it relates to the outdoors. I admit I was taken aback. Perhaps this was a wakeup call.

If a man were to be described as obsessed with his family, or his wife, or his God, wouldn’t that be a desirable trait? Indeed, I would be proud to be described in those terms.

But to be obsessed with the outdoors? Admittedly I am passionate about the outdoors. I love to fish, hunt, camp, plant gardens, photograph, and just be in the outdoors. I love to watch the sunrise and set. I am awed by violent storms and am beset by wonder at the intricacies of the web of life. The change in seasons is a wonder to me, and I anticipate them with great joy. I love to look at the night sky and marvel at the galaxies. I crave the stark beauty of the mountains, and in their shadow my soul is restored and enriched.

I volunteer time as an officer for Trout Unlimited, and a local Christian hunting club. I clean up my home river, help stock it with fish, and work to protect it on the ground and through the legislative process. I spend hundreds of hours a year in those efforts; in fact more hours than I spend actually hunting and fishing by far.

Part of my passion for nature comes from the recognition that all of creation is a reflection of the Creator, and it speaks to His creativity, His love, and His provision. When I enjoy the creation, I commune with and worship the Creator. It has been a part of who I am for as long as I remember.

So I struggle a bit with the moniker of obsession. I have to admit that it has caused me to re-examine where I am investing (as all good investors should) my time , to make sure that the returns for those investments are desireable.

Am I investing enough time with my family? With my friends and those I am in a position to influence? Are the returns such that they will outlive me?

I confess that I don’t know the answer yet. But the quest continues.

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