It seems like most people go through phases—periods in life when you’re really into something and then you’re not. I’ve had many, and I was thinking about them this morning and decided to make a list.
Annotated List of Phases:
(in mostly chronological order)
1. Monster trucks
They were big, loud, flashy, and powerful. What’s not for a little boy to love? My friend Bobby and I once begged my dad to take us to a truck pull, and when he finally agreed, we celebrated like we’d just won the lottery.
Inspired by the original Karate Kid, I made it all the way to . . . green belt. So it was short-lived. (I had no idea that crane technique wasn’t legit.)
3. WWF Pro Wrestling (and sometimes NWA Pro Wrestling)
My friend Jonathan and I would binge-watch past series of Wrestlemania on VHS. And my friend Matt and I spent a lot of time playing with these rubber wrestlers:
—highlight: seeing the Road Warriors wrestle when the NWA came to Jackson, TN.
Fun, but soon replaced by #5.
This one really resonated. It was when I first became aware of subcultures—those little enclaves of activity outside the mainstream. I was in the sixth grade, and I realized skaters were my kind of people.
6. Hair bands
And the crushes that went with them.
Anything at all that can be traced back to Dr. Dre still turns me up.
Michael Jordan was active and winning championships with the Bulls, so it was a good time to be a fan. I played a lot with my friends, but it all went sour when I didn’t make the team in tenth grade. Even now, I get jealous when I see a really tall male.
9. Grunge/alternative rock*
It was a glorious thing to be in high school when “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hit. It was the perfect intersection of adolescent angst and early-90s apathy; a generation of teenagers pretending to be dead inside. It was great!
—my uniform: flannel shirts, ripped jeans, and green Doc Martens; also, a general shagginess
—sub-phase: reggae (complete with a Bob Marley sticker on my Honda Accord)
—sub-phase: The Doors (who hasn’t communed with the spirit of Jim Morrison?)
I had always drawn pictures, but in 11th grade I began to realize that art was about way more than just pencil drawings of random things. It was (and is) a way of living, one that grew exponentially more important in college. However, the various painting phases of my artistic life apparently have their limits.
My dad took me hunting and fishing several times when I was little, and at the end of undergraduate school, I found myself wanting to do it again (plus it lined up with a sub-phase: obsession with the movie Legends of the Fall, in which Tristan is a hunter). Yet I was never a successful outdoorsman, and I think it’s because, at my core, I’m not the hunting/fishing type; this phase was more about being in the woods or on a lake with my dad and brother.
12. Being in a band*
I’ve been in three bands (four if you count the rap group in junior high). Each was fun in its own way. The most special, though, was the one I moved to Nashville with, because we were really trying to do something with it, artistically speaking—trying to “make it.” Oh well, oh well.
It’s amazing how one good golf shot will make you forget a hundred bad ones. Eventually, though, you get tired of spending money on something that makes you angry.
One of the triumphs of fatherhood is that now I have a justification for playing with LEGOs. This phase is ongoing.
*The asterisks denote a recurring phase.
Looks like my list will end here. I’ve had more interests than these, but many of them lasted hardly long enough to be considered phases. Also, things have grown out of certain phases that have evolved into something bigger—something more aptly called a lifestyle, like writing, which I trace back to my painting days, falling, as it does, under that greater realization of what it means to be an artist. Further still, some things are too monumental to be thought of as a phase, even though their relative duration was short, like graduate school. And finally, as I noted with asterisks, some phases never truly leave. In fact, there’s a skateboard in the back of my car right now.
What are your phases? Make a list!