chewing ideas down to stubble, then moving on…

Pick up a hobby

Posted by Jason on November 18, 2008

Hobbies are wonderful. I like hobbies so much, my life is pretty close to a complete mosaic of hobbies. Playing guitar, working my dogs, California native plants, bonsai, fireworks, reading, blogging…these are all hobbies for me (this week). Some hobbies like playing guitar, reading, or shooting fireworks used to take up a large portion of my life and provided a college sustenance. Other hobbies came as part of a package deal, like herding sheep with Scout and Pepper: we adopted these two herding dogs and, in addition to daily exercise, we quickly had to find an outlet for their instinctual drives to prevent them–and us–from going insane. Lo and behold, we now have an every Saturday morning hobby.

I held on to most of these hobbies simply because they were things I loved to do in my 26 years of growing up, and I refused to specialize myself. Even in college, I was unable to choose just one major, so I picked music and Spanish both! Some time in early spring of 2008, I decided my quest for personal growth needed yet another iron in the fire. I wanted to add another dimension to my becoming a complete and well-rounded person (this is really a passion of mine: fighting mental stagnation). So I actively sought a real hobby-type hobby (you know, like model trains or pottery or underwater basket weaving) and I came to bonsai. I don’t quite remember how I arrived this decision, but I think it grew out of my miserable failure at woodcarving a couple months earlier (I had the grandiose idea of carving at least part of a Nativity Set for Kristen’s and my first married Christmas). This romantic waste of time cemented my long-held notion that I totally suck at visual artistry. Confronted with my utter, long-standing lack of facility in this area, I decided that there has to be some way to tap into my inner Picasso.

Aha! It came to me while Kristen and I were cruising through the San Diego Wild Animal Park. We passed the Bonsai Pavilion on the way to the California native plant gardens. I saw the sign and I thought about dragging my very good sport of a wife in there, but we were walking up a big ass hill and I didn’t want to lose momentum. On the way down, however, we took a walk through it and I picked up a brochure. “Hey,” I thought, “this is visual art, and it’s like, plants and stuff. Maybe, just maybe…I could be successful?” I joined San Diego Bonsai Club, and signed up for the beginner class. 9 months later, I don’t know how successful I am, but I certainly haven’t failed yet!

So what do we gain from this habit of collecting hobbies? First of all, we learn mad skills from people that are really good at something that we aren’t. In this modern world of specialization, we tend to only do the stuff at which we excel, and compete with those who are around the same skill level. Learning about totally new things gives us appreciation for other people’s expertise, no matter what field. Most hobbies encourage us to work constructively with experts, humbling us and lifting us up at the same time.

Second, it forces us to communicate with others who can be so very different from ourselves or anyone we know. How many sheep and cattle ranchers did Kristen and I know before we started working our dogs, being that we’ve been born and raised in Southern California suburbs? That would be a big fat zero. I don’t know many lucrative professions that frown upon the ability to communicate effectively with different groups of people…

Finally, a hobby allows for temporary escape from our boring or hectic work lives. For so many people I know, their professions are their entire lives. My dad worked his entire life fixing cars, and he loved doing it. However, the job became his life, and the ups and downs of the business became his ups and downs…until he got a hobby. I’ve never seen him happier and more relaxed since he started playing bass in the church band! When we come home from long, hard days at work and just plop down in front of the TV, our brains are still grinding away, albeit subconsciously, with work. That just exhausts us more and gives us indigestion. By engaging in some intellectually active pursuit when we’re away from the job, we make our brains switch gears and only then do we get away from work…

My message is this post’s title. GO OUT AND FIND A HOBBY It doesn’t have to be artsy-craftsy or anything like that. It does have to be something different from your profession that you need to focus on at least a little bit in order to learn. Making a small commitment to diversify your brain can help mellow out your life and give you something to look forward to other than just not being at work. It could be once a week or once a month, but you might find that you really enjoy your hobby a lot more than your job. A profession change might then be in order…. No worries, you can cross that bridge when you come to it!


2 Responses to “Pick up a hobby”

  1. kktucks said

    keeping up with your hobbies is hobby enough for me 😉

    your darling wifey

  2. Kelli said

    Great post! I have too many to count too. 🙂 I can’t keep up with myself sometimes. Now I have to learn the art of BALANCE! Ha!

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