Obsessions and habits

Do you have a favourite love song? Perhaps the song that was playing the first time you fell in love, or a song that means something special to you and your partner? For me I’d have to say Be My Baby by The Ronettes. Not for any particular reason; I’ve just always liked the song. Whenever I have a crush, that song starts playing in my head.

I’ve asked a few people about their favourites before and the most common answer has been Every Breath You Take by The Police. Apparently that’s a common interpretation of the song, but it always makes me cringe. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great song; I love Sting and The Police. But it’s not a love song. It’s a song about obsession and the lyrics are actually quite sinister.

Every breath you take/every move you make
Every bond you break/every step you take
I’ll be watching you

Every single day/every word you say
Every game you play/every night you stay
I’ll be watching you

Sting wrote it during the collapse of his marriage and said he was thinking about Big Brother and control as much as anything else. I’m not sure why so many people think it’s a love song but apparently it’s still very popular at weddings. That just seems creepy; is a song like that really one we’d want to use to mark a union? It’s no wonder the divorce rate is so high.

It’s funny, though, because I’ve been thinking about that song a lot lately. When I was putting together my song list, Every Breath You Take just missed the cut. And recently I’ve been obsessing over things more than usual, so naturally started thinking about the song again. Mostly it’s little things but I can’t get them out of my head; a couple of things I said which were taken the wrong way; memories from years ago that keep popping up; paragraphs I keep rewriting because they’re still not right… it’s annoying and not like me to obsess over them like that.

I’m retraining myself to stop it but in a strange way it’s actually been quite useful. It’s made me look at myself in a different way, ask myself why I’m thinking those things… something I wouldn’t have done before. What it’s made me wonder as well is, is obsession actually such a bad thing? We’re told that an obsession is irrational, an unhealthy preoccupation with something or someone. It can be, but does that mean all obsessions are bad? I tend to think that sometimes focusing on a goal is the only way you can achieve it; like an athlete training for the Olympics, if it didn’t become their focus, would they have the drive to succeed?

Perhaps obsession is a relative thing. Let’s say someone wakes up at the same time, has the same breakfast, follows the same route to work each day. Does that make him obsessive and stubborn because he never changes his routine? Or does it make him sensible, because he knows what he needs to be effective? What if someone always checks the lights before they go outside, even when they know they’re off; if they do that a thousand times but it stops a fire once, does that make them obsessive? Or is it a precautionary habit?

I’ve often thought that there’s a thin line between an obsession and a habit and really they’re much the same. A habit can become just as much of an obsession over time. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad either. If checking the lights repeatedly gives you peace of mind, is that so bad? To me a habit or an obsession can serve a purpose – it’s when they begin to interfere in our lives that they become unhealthy. That’s when we need help.

Whether I’m that obsessive myself, I don’t know. I do keep to a routine; I try to eat at certain times, I’m usually online at the same times, and I write at night. But then I’m not afraid to break the cycle either… so maybe I am a little obsessive, but you probably need to be if you’re creative. How else can you stay motivated through the writer’s block?

I wonder what you think. Do you obsess over things? Is obsession necessarily bad? Can it be a good thing? I’d be interested to see what you think. 😉

2000 Miles

Do you have a favourite seasonal song? If I had a favourite one it would be The Pretenders’ 2000 Miles; it’s such a beautiful, sad song… whenever I hear it it takes me somewhere far away. 2000 Miles and Joni Mitchell’s River are two songs I can listen to at any time of the year and still get shivers.

I found this video on YouTube and it’s a wonderful live performance… Chrissie Hynde has never sounded better. I could listen to her voice for hours.

I still can’t believe it’s almost Christmas. The years just go by more quickly. I don’t think I’ve felt the spirit as much this year, though. Maybe I’ve just been too busy, and I still haven’t finished all my shopping yet! But listening to a song like this brings it all back.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone, and my best wishes for a peaceful New Year.