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Chris Rose has New Orleans in his heart

July 1, 2006

So I finished reading Chris Rose’s book, 1 Dead in Attic, last night. Really now, I wish I could read his pre-Katrina stories because I wonder how much the storm experience changed him as a writer. Was he always this passionate about his subject matter? Did he become as obsessed with crime, politics, economics, or entertainment when he covered those topics?

Then I wondered, if passionate was the correct word or is Rose obsessed with Katrina’s aftermath?

For the last three years, our library has been studying the book, Good to Great, by Jim Collins. Mr. Collins advises the followers of his ideas to find the one true thing that they are passionate about and pursue it completely. The gist of his teaching is that you cannot be great at one important endeavor if you settle for being good at lots of mediocre pursuits. After meeting Chris Rose in New Orleans and then reading 1 Dead in Attic upon my return, I related the passion I felt from Mr. Rose to that of a successful business or company following Collins’ Hedgehog concept and the flywheel rules.

So to understand it further, I turned to my handy-dandy thesaurus. Passionate. Obsessed. What is the difference? The word Passionate has the following synonyms:

  • Fervent
  • Fiery
  • Ardent
  • Enthusiastic
  • Zealous
  • Obsessive
  • Fanatical
  • Quick tempered
  • Easily incensed

The word Obsessed has these synonyms:

  • Fanatical
  • Gripped
  • Preoccupied
  • Passionate
  • Consumed
  • Preoccupied

So what is the difference? Is Rose passionate or obsessed? In my experience, passionate is a good feeling about a great event and obsessed is usually used to describe a negative feeling towards a bad experience. But that does not hold true if I follow the synonym rules.

Ok, I think I might have it figured out. I am passionate about kids, stories, and free things. I began my career as an early childhood educator, I love sharing stories and telling books, and at ALA last week I came home with a duffle bag full of giveaways I picked up from the vendors. I have loved loved loved doing those things all my life. I am passionate about all of them. Just look at the tumble and jumble in my office! So, working in Youth Services at our library seems to be a pretty good fit. But am I obsessed?

No. But maybe I would be if there was a threat that they would be taken away from me. What if I no longer had 3 year olds and 13 year olds to laugh and learn with? What if all books were banned? What if our administration told me to clean up my packed-ratty office? Then I too might be obsessed, as I believe Chris Rose to be, because of the threat that his dear New Orleans, if not already partly, may completely be taken away.

Good to Great is a wonderful study. We certainly have learned a lot from our time spent following Jim Collins’ advice. But somehow I really know, deep down inside, that passion is inherent. It cannot be taught. You have to have it from the beginning. You have to have it in your heart.

Chris Rose has New Orleans in his heart. Bless his soul.

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