It’s common enough for people, particularly young people, to close themselves off from an activity, e.g. “I don’t like math” or “I don’t like writing”. I wish we didn’t do this — it usually just reflects the difficulty of learning or a bad learning experience. Generally I have the sense that it’s possible to develop a fascination with anything, given some dedication. I think if we approach disciplines with this sort of open-mindedness, we cultivate a richer relationship with the world and we create networks of knowledge across different fields [1].

That said, I think can be unfair in my absolutism about this. I don’t think you can realistically think of all people as capable of becoming interested in anything. Our natural aptitudes play a really important role in what we are “interested” in; if we don’t have an intuitive talent for something, the barrier to entry becomes much higher, and the effort we exert trying to get it right can take away from the enjoyment.

It strikes me that this also gets at what I don’t like about the idea of a “calling” or “passion”. I don’t think there’s any person who is really destined for a particular job or role which will fulfill their identities. All we have is a bundle of natured or nurtured aptitudes and tastes. Our task is to find any activity that we’re good at, that we enjoy, and that will support a living.


1: As a side note, one of the things I admire about pragmatism is that it rejects the rigid distinctions between fields altogether. Dewey, for example, talks about how the difference between science and art is one of emphasis in one’s relation to experience, rather than an absolute boundary.