In Praise Of Obsession

The following is part of the Hevria series “Truth And Dare”, in which Hevria writers have pushed themselves to write about topics they find uncomfortable to share publicly.

I was also challenged to present my piece in a video.

One take. Nothing but me and the camera…

Transcript of video

Balance is overrated.

I don’t get anything important done until it becomes my obsession.

The usual argument for balance is that we need to make time for the important stuff: our spouses, kids, and parents; our health and peace of mind.

They say lack of balance in these areas will lead to one-dimensionality, workaholism, and high blood pressure.

That may be true for many people, but not for me.

My problem is I’m over-balanced. I make time for too many people, and too many projects.

I have ADOS. Attention Deficit… Oooh Shiny! [exit right, enter left]

When I say yes to being on every committee, answer all my emails promptly, work out every morning, and eat right… I’m over-balanced.

Because when everything is getting attended to, nothing that really matters is getting done.

The really beautiful stuff requires obsession. Not forever, mind you, but certainly for the length of the project.

I need to obsess. I need to seize this finite day, and chop out all the distractions – even the valuable ones. Because this day will end, and it can never be replaced.

Now, some people lack balance, and that’s the help they need. In fact, I become that guy when I’ve been obsessed with one project for too long.

But right now, I’m over-balanced; which is another way of saying I’m wrestling the distraction monster. I may not throw away my precious days on sheer junk and procrastination, but I need to use my gifts wisely.

God gives each of us a talent, and loving God means using that talent wisely

If you’re not sure what your talent is, ask God and He’ll tell you.

I’m serious. Ask God, “How can I do the most good?”

God will answer through the voice of your soul. You don’t have to be a prophet, just a human being.

You don’t believe me? You think God is the strong silent type?

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Perhaps you’re even angry with God for allowing so much pain and suffering in this world, while He’s busy doing other things?

Let go of that. Not your anger, which might be justified, but your sense that God is absent.

God is right here, right now. My soul and yours are each a piece of Godstuff.

And the space between our souls is Godstuff too. This moment is a God moment.

If I need to focus, I ask for help. If you need balance, ask for help.

Ask God for help the way you’d ask your mom or your dad, your favorite teacher, or the best coach you’ve ever had.

This is the kind of prayer that always gets answered.

Now, the answer may come in pieces, like a dawning awareness.

Maybe you need to ask when you wake up, and again in the afternoon, and again in the evening to keep you on track.

Coach God will be there. The request for help can take different forms.

Our Sages teach that one should recite 100 blessings a day.

A tzaddik (truly righteous individual) doesn’t say a blessing so that she can eat a piece of bread. She eats a piece of bread so that she can recite a blessing.

Blessings aren’t repetitive formulas, or magic incantations. They’re simple manners. If a king invited you to dinner in his palace, you’d thank him. How much more should we thank the King of kings, whose palace is better known as the universe.

Blessings help us become aware that Coach God is at our side all day, every day, waiting for us to seek His help.

I need help slaying the distraction monster. I ask God to help me get obsessed over the one project that is most important right now.

I need to my ADOS into ADIOS.

Adios, in Spanish literally means “To God.”

So here’s to God, the greatest Coach of all time, Who’s calling me to my next obsession.


Sal shares a bit of Jewish wisdom at pieces like this at