Why Have Hobbies?

In a recent Peanuts cartoon, when Lucy told Charlie Brown she was thinking of starting some new hobbies, Charlie said, “That’s a good idea, Lucy. The people who get most out of life are those who really try to accomplish something.”

Looking appalled, Lucy replied: “ACCOMPLISH something? I thought we were just supposed to keep busy.”

In the past, I thought like Lucy. Viewing hobbies as busy work to fill my idle moments, I pursued decoupage, macramé, origami, tatting, and yodeling. Each endeavor enjoyed the same success as my wish to be 5’6”.Wreath

My search for a busy-work hobby peaked when I scoured fields and ponds for nuts, pinecones, grasses, and twigs, which I used to make Christmas wreaths. I gave these creations to loved ones, who exclaimed happily and hung them in their snug homes.

I had used liberal amounts of a smelly liquid adhesive to attach my found treasures to the wreath frames. Too liberal. Over time, as the adhesive heated in warm homes, my carefully collected bits of the outdoors drooped from the wreaths and dangled like so many hapless bungee jumpers.

Looking back, I realize I also shared Charlie Brown’s notion of hobbies; my attempts to keep busy should accomplish something: impeccable cream puffs, granny-square afghans for all, a homemade wardrobe with nary a puckered sleeve or uneven hem, artistic greeting cards often made at get-togethers where participants share ideas and cut perfectly square corners.

I  thought an accomplishment was a learned skill that yielded an impressive product rather than an activity pursued for the pleasure of doing it. Though I backpacked in the Sierras every chance I had, I didn’t consider it a hobby. It was too much fun. I liked it when my legs stretched strong and my breath slid deep; I relished standing in the smell of pines to watch ridgelines march into the distance and a river tumble below. But the joyful experience yielded nothing I could enter in the country fair.

I learned that process is as rewarding as product from my mother, when she shared with me her passion for rescuing abused pieces of wooden furniture hidden under layers of paint. Working with her in the sunshine of my Nevada home, I scraped, sanded, stained, and oiled. Doing so, I realized that the smells, movements, and tactile experiences of the process pleased me as much as having a new, lovely piece of furniture.wooden chair

To this day, when I walk by something one of us refinished, I’m compelled to reach out and run my hand over it, an involuntary act of connection.

The synonyms for hobby — pastime, diversion, leisure pursuit — trivialize it. Hobbies satisfy my soul. When I’m immersed in one, I’m both Charlie Brown and Lucy: staying busy and accomplishing something — but with the added benefit of fulfillment. And I feel at one with potters, cooks, gardeners, skiers, kayakers, and photographers: all those who find completion in a process.

 

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405 thoughts on “Why Have Hobbies?

  1. Enjoyed this blog a lot so I’m now following 🙂
    I have a problem with hobbies. I have a problem with hobbies; I find them, enjoy them, then after a few months get bored and wander off until I find something new to enjoy. I wonder what that’s all about??

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    • Thank you for reading my blog and deciding to follow it. I hope you will keep commenting as well, because I enjoyed what you had to say about hobbies. You remind me of a friend of mine who is constantly adopting a new hobby, doing it well, then abandoning it for something else. I tease her that her hobby is trying out hobbies! As long as she, and you, enjoy trying new things, my advice is to continue doing so. I’ll visit your blog soon.

      Like

  2. This was a cute look at hobbies and this coming from someone who has tried several! Your conclusion is right on target. Hobbies that involve making something are so gratifying because your end product is good and/or useful yet you don’t need to be an expert to make that happen. We all have that urge to make or create something, hobbies are a great way to fill that. Thanks for writing this.

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  3. I enjoyed your transitions from your pursuit of time fillers, busyness, and accomplishment to pursuits of passion and fulfillment WITHIN your accomplishments.

    Trying new hobbies help us see what suits that need to create and express ourselves. Only then do we see what we enjoy vs. what feels like work.

    Enjoy your passions AND keep creating.

    Like

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