Is It A Hobby or a Passion?

A young woman with impeccable posture rat-tatted decisively on stiletto heels toward the waiting area where I sat. Pushing her sunglasses to the top of her head, she sat, checked her watch, sighed, and turned to me.

Weary, travel-stained, not wanting to talk, gulping a salad I had purchased as I galloped toward my connecting flight, I avoided eye contact.

“Have they offered an explanation for the late departure?” she asked.

“No.”

“I have an important meeting I simply can’t miss. I hate this airport. Why are flights out of Denver always late?” foul weather

Resisting the urge to point to the windows and the raging spring blizzard obscuring the runways, I shrugged my shoulders and returned to my salad. Undeterred, she said, “I’ll bet you’re going to Reno to gamble.”

Wondering if her assessment had been influenced by a stray bit of spinach caught in my teeth, I replied, “I’m doing a book reading in Carson City tomorrow.”

“Oh, you write? Good for you! How nice it must be at your age to find something to keep you busy. I always thought writing might be a fun little hobby; maybe I’ll tinker with it some day.”

Well, thank you very much: in addition to being as irritating as the United States Congress, Miss Hoity Toity, you just helped clarify my thinking about hobbies and passions: two concepts I’m prone to ramble on about as though they were identical twins.

I think I might have been looking for a hobby — an enjoyable activity — when I enrolled in a memoir-writing class after I retired. But the joy I found in writing quickly caused it to become a passion — an object of intense emotions and enthusiasm.

Writing engrosses me, challenges me, rewards me. At times, I also feel disappointed, frustrated, or discouraged. But, invariably, I wake up the next day eager to tackle the problems that defeated me the day before.woman using laptop on the bed

Deep in these thoughts, I munched my salad, ignored my self-important neighbor as she bossed people around on her cell phone, and wondered what separates one person’s hobby from another person’s passion.

To me writing is a passion and knitting is a hobby. I’m compelled to write or revise nearly every day, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes; but I can go long periods of time without feeling the need to knit one and purl two.

It could be the other way around. I could be immersed in patterns and yarn and learning new stitches every day, feeling engrossed, challenged, and rewarded, telling others that knitting is my passion.

So the difference between a passion and a hobby seems to be an individual choice based on the level of commitment, fascination, and reward that any activity from chess to fly-fishing to dancing offers its adherents.

Thanks to Miss Highfalutin and the chain of thought she motivated, I now understand that though I have many hobbies, I have only one passion. As Gloria Steinem said, “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

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31 thoughts on “Is It A Hobby or a Passion?

  1. Well said Janet! You know my passion and it corresponds exactly to what you feel about your writing. I have always wondered why some people consider the arts a “hobby”. Do they feel it is not as worthy as a “profession”? Where would we be if we did not have the artwork, the literature, etc. in our history?

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  2. Some people don’t understand passion. Mainly because they haven’t found any in their lives. I feel sorry for those folks whose livelyhood is just a job that captures and holds their life in a sort of prison. A hobby, to me, is an activity that I can take or leave. Passion is what keeps me alive, and coming back for more. Nice post.

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      • Three interesting and diverse passions. I hope you’ll put up with more questions: Whom do you work with on their dreams? Is it only people close to you or those who hear by word of mouth? When and how did you start? Do you routinely decipher your own?

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      • My Dream Work is limited, due to the fact that most people don’t want to deal with the truth about themselves. I do teach sessions on Dream Work through the Emeritus College program at the University of North Texas. I regularly help my wife with her dreams, and occasionally a friend will ask for help. My own dreams are dealt with throughout the night, as they occur. All three of these passions have one thing in common – discovery of the unknown. I guess, in a sense, I am an explorer at heart.

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  3. Well said post, thanks Janet. I consider my main hobbies, sleeping and looking out the window as a break to re-fuel from my writing, my true passion. I have never given birth, but times when I tear out a story from that “Heart Place” I retreat with some gruesome history book, read and sleep all afternoon. People behave badly in airports…as if Miss Hoitsy-Twaddle is the only one on her own plane, you handled her well, In my youth I would have drooled, or waved a copy of “The Plain Truth” to keep such persons away…

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    • We share two of the same hobbies; both are mentioned more than anything else in my columns: taking naps and looking out my windows. My husband doesn’t seem to mind being in third place. I wish I’d tried your tactic with Miss Tinker With Writing; I think I’d have enjoyed it more.

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  4. Nicely said…or written in your case. I try to avoid people without passion, they are like…… Beer without ethanol, no that’s not good enough, cookies w/o chocolate? Anyhow, bicycling is one of my many hobbies but photography is my passion. A day I don’t make images is a day wasted. Love your blog.

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  5. Some folks just can’t help themselves I guess. Airports are such the mixed bag of everything terrible and decent about us humans. I love your “names” for her, so funny and punchy. It is true, she did awaken a great question and knowing that you have a passion and are willing to say it out loud with pride, well that is a great discovery.
    I will always read, anything you write, Janet. Anything.

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  6. This is such a readable story with great pictures, descriptions and observations. This is now a favorite!
    A passion, a hobby…what does it matter to someone else? Those ideas percolate from deep within us expressing what we know to be true. My best comes from within when I am ‘listening’.
    I must do more ‘listening’ today. Thank you.

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  7. So, Miss Hoity Toity thinks that writing is a “fun little hobby that maybe I’ll tinker with some day”? I think not! Yes, it is fun but it’s hardly a “little hobby”. Until I read this post, I hadn’t really considered the differences between a passion and a hobby but you elucidated those differences with the perfection of your passion.
    Another great post, Janet. And, it reminds me to talk with people in airports—who knows what subject matter I may get out of a conversation like the one you had!
    How did the book reading go?

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    • The book reading was a great success. I lived in Carson City for 23 years, so lots of my friends and colleagues were there. I’m glad you felt the same indignation at my airport acquaintance as I did, but, as you said, I got a lot out of that conversation. I hope your Christmas was wonderful, Rita, and that the new year will take you a’traveling.
      Janet

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  8. You follow your passion beautifully! I thoroughly enjoy your posts–and your book.
    Maybe because the Vietnam war was such a huge part of my “coming of age”, I was very intrigued by your “rest and recreation” and wonder if you would ever write more about that time of your life.

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    • What a good idea, Shelley. Viet Nam still seems like yesterday to me; that period of my life was so vivid and emotional. I do need to explore it more, because I think many people would relate to it. I’ll add it to my list of possible topics, simmer on it for a while, and see what comes out. Thanks for responding so specifically to my book, a lovely thing for authors.

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