Finding a hobby: shaking yourself awake

Do you have a hobby? I suppose a hobby is anything you spend time doing with a passion, not because it’s practical, but for its own sake- a kind of follow your bliss thing. Everybody should have a hobby, if nothing else, to break the 9 to 5 syndrome that, along with sleep, consumes two thirds of our lives, a precious commodity slipping like sand through our fingers daily till one day we find we’re no longer that age when all our body parts did their thing and desire never slackened and courage came in abundance.

Now there are all kinds of hobbies. As a child in Philly, I once picked-up a boy scout handbook. It fascinated me to read of so many skill areas, from mastering rope knots to bee-keeping. Master 20 of them and you got to be an eagle scout, top- of-the line. Just one would have been plenty for me. Do you have a hobby? I’d be grateful if you’d share it with me in the commentary section that comes after a post.

My hobbies? I have many interests such as reading, gardening, and even blogging. But I’m all about specializing, or developing expertise to the point you become an authority like a connoisseur of fine wine. Sometimes a hobby can bloom into a career. How cool is that?

If we have to sit under the toad, work, as poet Philip Larkin once put it, then there’s nothing surpassing that rarity when vocation and avocation prove bed fellows. Hobbies give joy, release us from a volatile world, help us get in touch with ourselves. God knows, in these uncertain times we need a hobby more than ever to wade through life’s daily muck and capricious surprises.

I was just thinking: how intriguing it would be to find out what hobbies, if any, many of our icons–movie stars, athletes, political figures, etc, pursue. I know that Churchill and Eisenhower were into painting. Celebrity Dennis Weaver got into photography as a youngster and got quite good at it. Keanu Reeves indulges in his band, Dogstar.

Hobbies can do good for others. Besides collecting orphans, Brad Pitt has founded and is active in a project that builds affordable housing for the displaced in post-Katrina New Orleans. Geena Davis is one hell of an archer, finishing 24th among 300 would-be Olympic archers. Go, Geena! They’re all busy people, but they all have hobbies.

Me, I’ve always had this hankering for travel. As a child, I studied flags, read about countries, pursued ships docked at the Philly pier, spent oodles of time working-up imaginary itineraries, a wanna-be Frank Buck bent on safari. Out of this came my love for languages. I guess I’ve studied about thirteen of them now, not all of them for long spells, but some, a great deal like German and French. These last years, I’ve chosen to specialize, more specifically, to learn Spanish well, and so, todos los dias (everyday), with rare exception, I spend time working at it. The trick is to gauge your interests, choose one, and master it well.

I think Dale Carnegie may have said it best: “Today is life–the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake, Develop a hobby, Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto.”

Author: RJ

Retired English prof (Ph. D., UNC), who likes to garden, blog, pursue languages (especially Spanish) and to share in serious discussion on vital issues such as global warming, the role of government, energy alternatives, etc. Am a vegan and, yes, a tree hugger enthusiastically. If you write me, I'll answer.

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