Run With it: A reflection on my many fleeting, eclectic interests


Written by Jacob Van Blarcom

I was stationed on my bedroom floor, sorting through the nest of papers, photos, and receipts that accumulated from my first 19 years of life, when my mother and best friend from high school teamed up to roast me.

It was one of my very last night's at home, right before I packed up everything I knew and headed back to begin my sophomore year of school at the University of Minnesota. This final summer at home had proven to be a very quiet and uneventful time, and a lowkey evening bantering with my mom, Vickie, and hometown pal, Quin, wasn’t too far from the ordinary.

I wasn’t really cleaning per se, just idly reminiscing with a garbage bag by my side as Quin and my mom oversaw. As I unearthed odd scraps of paper, irrelevant memories that were long repressed came crashing back. The three of us were quick to laugh, recalling all the small details from the different eras behind us. It was as if we were haphazardly traveling back in time, only stopping at the most irrelevant moments that could only possibly be preserved through paper mementos. All the school plays I’d been in, movies at the theater I’d seen, and the photographs I had printed and meant to throw together in an album someday but never did were all right before us for examination.

Quin found a small pocket notebook that had been squirreled between sheets of paper. He began to read aloud the list of “Novel Ideas” I had written inside, from when I was just a freshman in high school.

“Jacob,” he laughed, “you’ve had a lot of different phases,” noting how much my interests had fluctuated through the years, citing my heightened interest in novel-writing as a prime example of a short lived career that I saw destined for myself. It was as if all the papers in front of us began swirling together and taking form, becoming a grand thesis of my personal and intellectual journey into college.

My mother couldn’t help but agree, and soon the two of them began prodding and ripping apart my teenage life, thinking about every random thing I’ve ever taken an interest in and advertised my excitement about:


rocks, cursive, typography, John F. Kennedy, jogging, fountain pens, primates, knitting, archaeology, stop motion animation, psychoanalysis, songwriting, soldering, vinyl records, improv, poetry, Spanish, garbage dumps, AM radio, long exposure photography, virtual reality, woolly mammoths, classical music, the history of fast food, cleaning old coins, water color painting, packing lunches, 8mm movies, outer space, estate sales, Latin, the clarinet, juicing, the Black Plague, 8 track tapes, bookbinding, aged leather, the catacombs of Paris, golf, gardening, slaughterhouses, Kodachrome, Hollywood extras, ska, panoramas, editing Wikipedia, bleaching denim, the science behind gravy, Polaroid photos, typewriters, abandoned buildings, the organ, cassette tapes, conspiracy theories, the deep web, and journaling.


Although I admittedly can’t remember the last time I picked up a pair of knitting needles or a watercolor paint brush, among many other instruments, tools, or objects listed above - including the thousand pound electric organ my parents brought into the house that I only played for a week (I’m sorry)- I look back over all the things that once captivated me, even if it was for just a fleeting moment, and can say that I’m thankful I have the kind of insatiable curiosity that keeps me on edge. I can’t imagine having a brain that isn’t ready to find the next greatest endeavor. I can’t picture a life sitting still, not taking any chance to learn or explore something just for the sake of doing it.

So thank you to my friends and family throughout the years for standing beside me as I grab a topic and just run with it. Or rather, thank you for shaking your heads but still letting me run my course with a new endeavor. I’m sure the eclectic and broad width of my interests will come in handy someday.