Die-hard, rabid (fill in the blank)

A few years ago, I went to an X-Files convention with my friend Valerie. I’d never been to a convention before, so I didn’t know what to expect. Would people dress like their favorite characters? Would we be blessed with a surprise appearance by *gasp* David Duchovny?

I no longer remember many details from that day, except for a general sense of being underwhelmed. That was the day I realized that—although I loved the show—I wasn’t really a die-hard, rabid X-Files fan. It made me feel a little bit sad.

I’ve always been fascinated by people who are die-hard, rabid anythings. I’m envious of their passion, of their singular commitment to whatever it is they love.

Last night I watched Word Play, the wonderful 2006 documentary about crossword puzzles and the people who work them. I couldn’t believe the speed with which some of those folks whipped through the clues. It was as if they were born to do puzzles. It’s just how they’re wired.

It reminded me of another wonderful documentary about high-wire artist Philip Petit, who defied reason—and death itself—to walk between the towers the of World Trade Center. Even after watching the footage, I still can’t believe he actually pulled it off.

Maybe someday neuroscience will unlock the mystery of what drives us to love the things we love, and to do the things we do. Until then, I’ll be on the sidelines, marveling at the ways that humans find meaning in their lives.

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