For three nights this week we watched documentaries, having completed all episodes of "The Sopranos" and the brief third season of "The Killing." As one day spooled into the next, I thought I spotted similarities among the films, themes that were shrieking, mutedly, in my own life. My son's life as well. On Saturday night our choice was a 2014 release called "Particle Fever," following the completion and launch of the Hadron Collider with the hope of explaining the origin of matter. In the film scientists frequently discuss how long they have been searching for, waiting for this answer. It illuminates impatience over drying ink or paint as the microscopically trivial matter it is.
"The Battered Bastards of Baseball" which follows the impossible arc of one man's dream, to own a winning minor league ball team, and "Valentino, The Last Emperor," during which we get to attend the extravagant gala that marked the designer's retirement after 45 years as a man who made women look beautiful.
We are called by some unlikely sirens, passion sparked by thoughts of a white pastel pencil in one moment, a scalloped circle paper punch in the next, while a dimly-lit slide show of text and images plays in the background. However odd we may find these sequential obsessions, we would be fools to ignore their allure. They call for a reason. They may be considered pieces of passion, separate elements that will join forces when all have been collected, not unlike the thousands of scientists involved with the collider project, each an essential part, each bringing what they have to obtain the elusive answer.
The line between passion and obsession may become blurry, we may ask ourselves is this folly or wisdom and we may not be able to respond. What we do know is this: if we dismiss curiosity and intuition, decide not to follow the trail however poorly marked, we will never learn what it, what we, might have been.