I’m not trying to be a hater, but I just don’t get hobbies. Specifically, I don’t understand how some people maintain such incredible commitment to an activity which typically doesn’t result in an immediate, tangible pay off – the pay off is often the mere act of doing the thing itself. (I think I just confused myself, oh well, moving on.) This is by no means an indictment of those people; it is more a criticism of my own “glass is half empty” thinking and overall tendency towards impatience.
I would love to find a hobby that might provide a brief respite from my frequently noisy brain. In fact, it is a suggestion I have heard repeatedly throughout my life from both family members and medical professionals. The problem, however, isn’t finding the hobby, the problem is remaining committed.
I have attempted various creative and athletic pursuits throughout the years and most ended in failure. Here are three of my biggest, most costly hobby disasters:
Abstract Painting: That time I thought “abstract” painting would be a great distraction for my brain. Despite knowing NOTHING about painting, I enthusiastically purchased some basic materials for this exciting new venture, but instead of creating expressive or “edgy” artwork, my artistic attempts resembled something you would find hanging on the walls of a kindergarten classroom. (Admittedly, that may be because I grew so frustrated trying to paint with brushes, I finally resorted to painting with my fingers.)
Basic Jewelry Making: I thought the process of designing unique jewelry pieces and methodically threading pretty beads onto thin pieces of wire would prove a calming, rewarding past-time. Not so. I once again became frustrated at my lack of artistic skills and irritated with my fat, fumbling fingers as they kept impeding the threading process. There certainly was nothing calming or rewarding about this activity. I was eventually left with a large collection of loose beads, chopped up wires, and unused clasps all of which inevitably made their way to the Salvation Army donation box.
Taekwondo (twice!): I have always admired the artistry and strength of martial artists. As an early teen, I desperately wanted to become a truly disciplined and skilled practitioner of the martial arts. Unfortunately, I am neither athletic, coordinated nor confident. Consequently, my two attempts at Taekwondo resulted in my NEVER testing for any belts during my first set of lessons and never making it beyond a yellow belt in my second set of lessons.
Yet, in spite of these failures, the hobby conundrum keeps rearing its ugly head especially since I gave up working outside the home. When I can no longer stand the excitement of cleaning a perpetually cluttered house or when the thrill of wading through a constantly increasing pile of laundry wanes, I often find myself thinking, “You know what you need? You need a hobby!” A thought which is immediately assaulted by the negative side of my brain with the usual cynical responses, “Why bother? You’ve failed at all your other attempts. What is the point anyway?” And thus the conversation ends.
This negativity not only interferes with my attempts to enhance my life through hobbies, I am certain it will keep me from being one of those elderly individuals who lives life to the fullest or who continues to achieve impressive feats despite their advanced years. (You know those headlines: “Eighty-four year old man finally earns college degree!” or “Seventy-year old woman takes up body building and wins regional championship!”)
My immediate response to these types of headlines is, “What is the point of pursuing such activities so late in life?” Quite frankly, that response concerns me. This type of thinking won’t get me very far as I speed down the road towards senior citizenship! I envy those people! I envy their drive, determination and motivation to take on a challenge just for the sake of doing it.
In hopes of banishing my “why bother” attitude, I have decided to make another attempt at a hobby-like activity. What have I decided on? Thank you for asking. I’ve jumped on board the meditative coloring book train! Well…not an ENTIRE coloring book because that would just be ridiculous. I managed to find ONE, pre-framed meditative coloring picture whilst browsing Barnes and Noble. I purchased the picture over three weeks ago, and I have to say, I’ve made great progress thus far (sorry for the blurry photo – camera issues):
Okay, so perhaps not great progress but I am determined not to give up. At least there will be a tangible result upon completion of this particular activity – a lovely, bright picture to add to our living room decor. Provided, of course, I don’t mess it up somehow and color outside the lines…what a nightmare that would be!
Again, I think hobbies are generally a good thing. They can improve mental and physical health, and they provide much needed relief from the harried pace of modern life. I expect I would benefit greatly if I could commit to a hobby, yet my often melancholic moods and negative attitude gets in the way. Still, I am going to persevere in this venture by focusing on these intangible benefits before the negative side of my brain catches on. Shhhh….
Question of the day: Do you have a hobby? What is it? How do you stay motivated to pursue your hobby?