Personal vs. professional interests

The other day, a friend asked if I’d be attending a lecture that she thought I might find interesting. It’s almost three months now since I stopped working at The Canadian Jewish News, and the event is the type I would have covered as a reporter. It told her I wasn’t planning to go.

But I have to ask myself to what extent saying no was a knee-jerk reaction, because when I was working, I covered so many talks and events that I didn’t really have the time or desire to attend more of them. It’s odd to think about attending an event like that on my own, without my tape recorder or notebook.

I believe I got much more out of the events I covered than I would have if I weren’t there as a journalist. Reporting forced me to pay attention at times when my mind might otherwise have wandered, and writing my articles afterward helped me distil the information, as I sifted through my notes to pinpoint the most significant parts.

I was fortunate that intellectual stimulation was a built-in part of my job. Also, by covering issues I might not have delved into on my own, I exercised my brain, learned much, and, to a certain extent, went beyond my comfort zone.

Another friend advised me, after I lost my job, to write about what I like, which is part of the reason I blog about chocolate on Sundays, and more generally about food on Fridays. That’s been a more gentle “stretch” for me, as my food writing evolves.

Even when I was a kid, I would always start my homework with the easiest assignments. A lot of people like to get the most difficult item out of the way first, but I prefer to work my way up to more challenging tasks, sort of like warming up before a workout at the gym.

So I think I want to work my way up to attending the type of lecture my friend suggested – at least if I’m not going as a journalist.

I won’t be blogging on Thursday or Friday this week (more Jewish holidays!). Will be back on Sunday.