Passion Projects & The Weight of Objects

I was recently approached by Kristen Joy Watts to participate in something called The Weight of Objects. She asked me to think about an object that was important to me and explained that she and photographer Ramsay de Give had banded together to collaborate on a portrait project. The twist: the portraits are of both the person and their object. Watts is a senior content strategist at R/GA and de Give is a freelance photographer for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Basically, they both have day jobs and yet have decided to, on their own time, create this cool, quirky lens on the world.

Their project reminds me of two ideas that often come up in Visioning Labs that I have clients work on:

First, the idea of a Passion Project. A Passion Project is a way into doing something that you love without making it your whole life all at once. The idea is to identify one or two things that you love (or you think you will love) and devote a certain amount of time to that thing. For example, for graduate students who have three months of summer internship time, to work for two months and spend one of those months dancing or composing music or cooking intensively (taking on a Passionship rather than an internship, if you will). For those working in full-time jobs, taking a week of vacation and rather than traveling somewhere testing out an idea intensively. (Would I really like to write for 5 hours a day, or do I just like the idea of it?)

Second, the idea of slow-drip coffee. Slow-drip coffee is a term my husband first used to describe what happens when you read the newspaper regularly. Spending 30 minutes a day reading the newspaper adds up to a lifetime of knowing what happened in the world and being able to tie events (small and large) together over time. However, if we only ever read the newspaper when it out-competed everything else one could do with those 30-minutes, we might never actually sit down and read it. Similarly, working on something you enjoy for small bits at a time and sticking to it adds up to a project. To me, The Weight of Objects is a perfect “slow-drip coffee” project. They both have a lot of other things going on, but on one burner is this incredible project that clearly brings them both joy and, over time, mastery. And, when they’re done, they have collected incredible stories, pictures and experiences for others to share.


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