Falling in Love With People

I think one of my favorite things about people is how they light up when you find exactly the right thing that they love to talk about.

Sometimes it’s people–the friends who accomplished something, the family that’s visiting in a few weeks. The new baby and the recently graduated cousin. Or the people who create–the car half-finished in the garage, the quilt that just needs a few more stitches. The garden that’s just coming up in the spring–if only those damn squirrels would leave it be.

There’s the people with topics, who leap in to tell you about the Perseid shower coming up when you mention how pretty the sky is, the ones who hear you ponder a question and offer book recommendations in response. Oh, and the people with ideas! The questions, the new rabbit holes of unconsidered variables, the research you haven’t heard of.

And people are these collections of things that have captured their passion. Astronomy and hypnosis and philosophy and smithing and treehouse architecture and all just waiting for you to ask the right questions. Their eyes will get a little bit wider, their gestures, more energetic. They give you their real smiles–the ones that aren’t just for agreeing and nodding along and making small talk.

And then some of you out there make fun of them for lighting up at the mention of dollhouses or sports or fashion or that one television show. And they back off. They curl their toes in their shoes and change the subject. And maybe the next time, they won’t say “yes! I love talking about the finer points of fencing!”

And you, out there, sneering at their love for beekeeping or birdwatching?

You are ruining it for the rest of us. 



  1. Mister Grumbles says

    One of mine is community theatre. I still sometimes get comments like “You spend all that time rehearsing and performing and don’t even get PAID? Ugh!”

    When two (or more) people who light up to the same topic get together, it is simply golden.

    • Kate Donovan says

      YES. I did ballet for many years, and nothing felt quite so good as all of us nailing a performance together.

    • Johnny Vector says

      Hey, me too. One of my favorite moments was talking after a rehearsal with Brad Oscar, Tony-nominated and amazingly wonderful actor, about our little community theatre show, and hearing his unadulterated joy in what he had seen us do. That was a “guess we’re doin’ it right” moment.

      Which of course brings up another topic entirely: the idea that without ever-extending copyrights nobody will ever bother to create anything. But that’s a separate hobby horse of mine.

  2. says

    Your opening sentence resonates with me. I love finding things to relate to in other people’s interests and learning something. I’m friends now with someone who’s way into puppetry. And if you were like me, you forgot about that entire art form and world until I brought it up!

    But it’s totally cool! There’s so much depth there that people don’t appreciate or dismiss as children’s entertainment.

  3. rory says

    One of the things that routinely makes me wonder if something is wrong with me is that there’s nothing for which I have passion. There are plenty of things I enjoy and invest time and effort in, but if you told me tomorrow I’d never be able to do one of them again, I’d probably shrug and do something else.

    That said, it’s pretty low to crap on somebody else just because their passion doesn’t meet your particular standard of worth. If you love ballet, or community theater, or ant farming, the awesome! Keep doing it and loving it, and screw anybody who thinks it’s not worthy.

  4. daviddurant says

    > I think one of my favorite things about people is how they light up when you find exactly the right thing that they
    > love to talk about.

    The very definition of geekdom is the joy derived from sharing one’s obsessions.

    • Subtract Hominem says

      The very definition of geekdom is the joy derived from sharing one’s obsessions.

      Trolls can be defined as those who mock people for deriving joy for sharing their obsessions.
      Many trolls are also geeks.

      I still do not understand how this works.

  5. Anaïs Ahmed says

    One of my favourite things about coming to college this year was getting to know people with the same interests that I had. My main interests – linguistics, history, and kink – had thitherto gone unaddressed by actual humans, and the same was true for many other incoming freshmen. I found a guy with whom I could talk for hours excitedly rapid-firing exchanges on topics like the Mandate of Heaven or Achaemenid Persia. I haven’t had moments quite as magical as that. This article touches on that feeling pretty well – thank you for writing it.

    While I’m here, I might as well take the time to mention that the Perseid meteor shower will be washed out by the moon, but it’ll still be pretty great.

  6. left0ver1under says

    Everyone has their interests and there’s nothing wrong with sharing. Sometimes the listeners aren’t interested but they nod and sound appreciative because they want to spend time with you. Like anything, people on both sides of the conversation need to recognize the need for politeness and limits.

    I have a fascination for older (it’s not “old”) technology like typewriters, slide rules and the like. Some people are interested, and it’s great to find others who feel the same way or are curious. But some aren’t interested and will listen politely for a while, usually if it’s the first time I talk about the subject. When I recognize that people aren’t interested, I stop talking about it. I don’t want to bore or annoy them, and put being friends above my personal interests.

  7. beardymcviking says

    And there you go and make my afternoon better, just like that!

    Thanks for this little snippet of thought. More than just reminding me about all the things people can be interested in (my acquaintances have some widely varied interests), it reminds me that people are pretty damn cool sometimes, and worth interacting with (yes, I need reminding sometimes).

    Anyway, maybe I will put tonight’s projects on hold and go out to that social thing I’d been tempted to avoid, just so I can watch for this moment you described :)

  8. busterggi says

    My interests are so varied and occassionally downright bizarre that I don’t dare put down others for what their things are.

  9. Carlos Cabanita says

    Sharing a special interest with someone is awesome, of course. But even when the interest is not shared, there are wonderful things do know about the multiple interests of people. I just don’t listen politely. I question and make them explain their thing to me. People usually love it and I learn a lot.

  10. RockNRower says

    There’s a potential corrollary to this, though, well illustrated by a quote from Somerset Maugham; “He asked if I like card tricks, I said no, he did five.” Sometimes, you just have to accept the fact that others don’t share your obsessions. Find and cultivate the ones who do. Respect the others enough not to force your passions on them.

  11. carlie says

    I keep re-reading this, and it keeps making me happy. I was one of those cynical sarcastic teenagers/young 20s/ok into my 30s kind of person, but it was always masking my inner happy person who just liked people. It’s good to know there are others like that out there, and to be open about that enjoyment.

  12. Lucy Rose says

    Thank you!
    I’ve been reading your work for quite a while, but I have never commented before. I felt compelled to do so after reading this post, because it really touched me. You see, I’d recently escaped an emotionally abusive relationship, and my “partner” had gone from being interested in my various, eclectic passions, to telling me they were “cute” and giving me a silly hug (like I was a 4 year old showing off my latest duplo creation), to giving me a look like I was slimy wad of ick stuck to her shoe whenever I would wax poetic about something I was passionate about (and then changing the subject). or making rude, dismissive comments. or cutting me out of conversations with others, or…. well, you get the picture.
    So I’ve been recovering, slowly, my sense of dignity and self-worth, with help from a therapist.
    And a good part of my struggle has been helped along by folks like you, who tell their stories and share their knowledge and help me understand that there is hope for the future, even if today sucks.
    So again, thank you! Thank you for sharing your experiences, your knowledge, everything. And thank you for reminding me that there are people out there like you, who love people for being the wonderful collections of passions they are. I wanted you to know that your words are doing good in this world, and I am grateful that you and FTB exist.

  13. says

    Indeed. There have been few happier moments (at least lately) than when a random person I’d just met came into my room, saw my carefully-sorted-by-colour-and-set cards, and I heard “omg…you like MAGIC!?”. And then even better when they asked me “what deck do you play?” and understood my response of “Reanimator*”.

    * – it puts cards into your discard pile (graveyard) intentionally, so that powerful creatures can be “reanimated” with cards that can be played for less of a cost, and thus earlier in the game, than the creatures themselves. Like this, or this, with this to reanimate and stuff like this for putting stuff in the graveyard.

  14. says

    Bravo Kate!

    I just don’t understand how people can be consciously motivated to pee all over someone else’s passion. Maybe it’s my privilege, but the only thing that motivates me to snipe is others who go out of their way to snipe (I don’t take kindly to folks who don’t take kindly, and all that). I can understand that suffering misfortune might be an subconscious factor to enact on others (the dysfunctional abuse cycle), but that’s like opening fire on ships in your own fleet because you took a hit from the enemy.

  15. katybe says

    I’m way behind in catching up on the vast collection of interesting reading material in my feed reader (as in 4 figures behind), so I know I’m coming late to the party, but I just had to comment to say how much I loved reading this. Thank you for this.

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