declaration on connectedness

I'm participating in The Declaration of You and one of the prompts asked us to consider our enthusiasm. We created lists of things we loved/liked a lot and why we loved them including how we felt when doing/seeing/eating/watching/whatevering them.

I wondered if it would be difficult to explain what I loved/liked about the items on my list. I am a passionate person and so I love many things. I get excited about little things like when I discover M has included a pickle in the lunch she made for me. So I expected making a list of what I love would not be too tough. But, I was surprised by some of the items that found their way on to the list and also a bit surprised by what I ended up feeling about the particular things. Here is my list:

I love taking photographs because it allows me to look at the world/people/places/things in a new way. I feel part of something bigger and completely present while taking photographs.

I love reading because I can escape into a different time/place/region with different people; I can learn something new. Reading makes me feel calm, absorbed, intellectual.

I love having conversations because I enjoy connecting and sharing my thoughts with others. I feel energized by good conversations and happy when I'm connected to other people through our stories. I also love blogging for the same reasons.

I love cooking because I like seeing how all the different pieces come together to make a meal. I also feel productive and warm when I cook.

I love the smell of rain, how everything seems clean and fresh. It makes me happy, nostalgic and like I can start over.

I love coke floats and hot dogs and cupcakes because they're simple and fun with varying flavors. They make me feel like a kid.

I love watching TV and going to the movies because I like to see a story unfold. I like sitting in the dark, becoming part of other people's lives, even if they're imaginary,even if it's only for a few hours. I like to feel moved by stories but sometimes all I need is a nice distraction. I feel out of my own head space and unworried through these venues.

I love poetry, the arrangement of words, the way it evokes feelings. It makes me feel romantic and powerful when I write or read or discover a poem.

And here is what I discovered about what I love: I love things that make me feel connected to others, to the world, to the bigger picture. My passions are driven by the idea of connecting whether in person, virtually, in my teaching, or through my writing. I am also passionate about things that make me think (no surprise there, perhaps). For me, the biggest surprise came with how many times the phrase "it makes me feel like a kid" appeared as a reason I liked something. I have often thought and admitted that I can be too serious. I enjoy stretching my mind, thinking about the world in large terms, asking big questions about life. It is my comfort zone, this intellectual space of deep thoughts. Being silly, however, isn't something that comes easy. So I was surprised to see that I liked quite a few things because they made me feel like a kid. Surprised, I think, because I allow myself to love them. Okay, so most of them were food. It's a start.

Ultimately, even the "feeling like a kid" is about feeling connected to the world. When I think about myself as a child, I am surrounded by people*. I am making up games and stories, acting them out with neighborhood kids. And while I've also been immersed in stories, the point of the story has always been to share it with others.

Thus, my first declaration is: I declare that doing things that make me feel connected to others, to the big picture, makes me tick.

I'm curious: does making a list of things you love come easily? Do you know why you enjoy certain things and not others?

*At least until I wasn't, when I experienced something that made me disconnect and put up a wall. I've spent about 8 years trying to break it down and learn how to let myself be seen, vulnerable and involved with other people.