My Boring Old Hobbies

Am I the only one that cringes when someone asks about my hobbies?

“What are your hobbies?  What do you like to do in your spare time?” people (and confusingly, paperwork at the physical therapy office) ask.

First off – spare time?  What is this spare time that people speak of?  Does anyone really have spare time?  No.  No, we do not.  We fill our time.  We overfill our time.  So, this is a really stupid question.  A better question would be, “What do you wish you could do in the 7 minutes a day you spend watching your children run pants-less around the house when they are supposed to be putting on their shoes?”

Second of all, let’s address this loaded word, “hobby.”  It always stumps me.  It’s a word that conjures up images of stamp collections and origami swans.  Stamp collections and origami swans are real hobbies!  In fact, collections and creations or any kind are pretty awesome.  They add to the world and make us appreciate things in a new way.  They are tangible and beautiful.  There are also plenty of creative and active hobbies that evoke incredible images of jubilation and peace.  Yoga!  Spelunking!  Photography!  Watercolor painting!

But I don’t collect things, I don’t create things, and God knows I do not paint.  I don’t have the patience required to knit or quilt, though I have serious knitting envy when I see the gorgeous scarves and blankets that my friends have created.  As for collections, I lose interest in any typical collectible after I’ve seen a couple dozen.  Once I’ve seen 24 spoons, I’m pretty much set.  As for more adventurous hobbies, I don’t know that I have the energy or endurance to learn and perfect, let’s say, my scuba-diving skills.

What do I like to do for fun?  Well, I like to read.  I like to watch TV.  Sometimes I like to watch reality TV for hours on end.  (Top Chef marathon?  Yes, please!) I like to play the piano – not symphonies in the key of G, but a few songs out of the Titanic songbook will make me smile.  I used to think cooking was a hobby until I became a short-order cook in my own home full of extremely particular patrons.  If I’m feeling really ambitious, I’ll write something instead of read something.  Read, watch TV, play the piano and write.  Oh, and I like to lie down by the side of the pool – not actually swim in the pool, per se, but lay down next to the pool and watch people swim.  Or lie on a beach and watch people bob in the waves.  I like to watch things, and read things.  I’M THE LAZIEST PERSON ON THE PLANET.

What I like to do seems so boring and ordinary, when hobbies are supposed to reflect one’s passions.  So, what does that say about me?  What does it say that I enjoy watching TV?

I started to see things in a different light recently, though, when I was watching Lancelot play Fantasy Football.  Lancelot is a lot like me in that he will never really admit to having any hobbies, because his hobbies don’t seem flashy or exciting enough to him.  Yet, he loves sports, and he has really gotten excited about Fantasy Football.  I watched him this year, week after week, connecting with people in his league with friendly banter, tweaking his teams and enjoying the stats and math as much as the sense of competition, risk and reward.  What he was doing was far from boring.  It ignited him.  It energized him.  It lit him up.

When someone is truly interested in something, just simply watching them is energizing.  Watching Lancelot play Fantasy Football made me realize that no one should ever apologize for their interests.  How we choose to spend our not-so-spare time shouldn’t be about what sounds most fascinating to others.  It should, instead, be about letting our spirit guide us, listening to our hearts and honoring our unique interests, alone.

I don’t feel quite as bad about my boring old hobbies anymore.  Reading, playing the piano and cooking up a new meal every now and then may not be exciting.  They may not thrill the average person.  But they bring me pleasure.  Isn’t that what a hobby is really all about?

Watching TV is just as legitimate a use of one’s time as building an empire of Lionel trains.

Whatever you love to do, do it, and love it.  Any time you follow your heart, it’s more than good enough.


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