Never Question the Interests of Others

“Be careful what you wish for,” we’re warned. “Be careful what you ridicule,” I’d add.

Too often during my quick-to-judge life, I’ve had to retract adamant statements uttered with overtones of arrogance. These pronouncements usually began “I wouldn’t be caught dead…” and often involved the beloved pastimes of others. I hereby apologize to fans of the following interests for my misplaced smugness and scorn.

(1) Golf: “This is a sport?” I’d mutter as I sat in an easy chair, flipped through the channels, and paused on something called The Master’s where the announcers whispered to each other and the players took strolls. But because my husband enjoyed the game, I took golf lessons and learned one thing: I am poorly equipped to play a game where you’re taught a thousand things to think about before you even tee off. Then, as you walk onto the green, mind a-buzz, you’re told to forget everything and “Let ‘er rip.”

So I’d rip, watch my ball dribble ten feet from the tee, and think, “How does anyone play this incredibly complex game?”

Icono sudoku

(2) Sudoku: I’m a word person. My math career ended with high school geometry and Mr. Stone, who prowled the room with a yardstick as he had an ongoing dialogue with Arnold Edgefield, a boy with a head full of theorems, postulates, and cowlicks. If anyone appeared indifferent to their brilliant dissection of the day’s topic, Mr. Stone whacked the culprit’s desk with his yardstick. Sometimes we had to duck to avoid flying bits of yardstick, but it felt good to be involved.

I lost all control of numbers that year, so why would I want to do a puzzle filled with them?

Then, to help pass the time on an endless flight, I tackled Sudoku in the airline’s magazine. To my surprise, solving the puzzle didn’t require complex mathematical procedures, but, instead, reasoning and recognizing the numerals one to nine. That I could do; I was hooked.

(3) Refinishing antique furniture: As my mother worked at restoring a battered oak dresser, my teenaged self declared that when I had my own house, I would furnish it with chrome, glass, mirrors, and leather, not “all this old wood stuff.”

Mom smiled, kept working, and said, “Whatever you want, Toots.”

Now I fill with pleasure when relatives visit me and say my home reminds them of Mom’s. Forget the two maxims I mentioned earlier and remember only this one: “Appreciate your mother.”

Amazed explorer looking through binoculars

(4) Bird watching: Seeing a book on North American birds on a flea market table, I wondered why anyone would tip-toe around, wearing binoculars and a pith helmet, in search of a specific species of sparrow. I then resumed my search for marble eggs of a different hue than those I already had.

But after retiring, I began to notice the birds in my backyard, bought binoculars of my own, and soon experienced the rewards of watching birds: interesting creatures with unique habits, songs, and plumage that add color and melody to my world.

For someone who advises others to pursue interests, adopt hobbies, and find a passion, I used to be unbearably judgmental about the pastimes of others. But I now know better. In fact, I’ve been thinking about going to a demolition derby or maybe a tractor pull. And if I become a fan, I hope you won’t judge me as I have judged you.

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44 thoughts on “Never Question the Interests of Others

  1. I have two thoughts. First, I am a woodworker. I enjoy making furniture but I cringe at the idea of refinishing furniture. Finishing is bad/hard enough the first time. Second, one of the most fun things my wife and I ever saw was a garden-tractor pull in which the contestants were all under 14 years old. Those kids had put so much work into their little (by comparison) machines, it was a delight to watch.

    I’d have a third comment, but it would be about golf and you would probably rather I not include it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for leaving golf out of the discussion.I’ll sleep better tonight because you didn’t mention it. Children on garden tractors? I can see that. Not caring for refinishing furniture? Shame on you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sudoku — can’t do it. I’m so dyslexic that the 5 turns into 3 (or B), the 7 becomes L and 4 becomes F so on and so forth. I’d LIKE to do it, but just looking at it gives me intense anxiety. I played golf once. It was at Fort Smith Montana where my aunt and uncle had a cabin on the Crow reservation. There were 9 holes, but no one played the 7th because of rattlesnakes. My uncle took me out one evening. I used my aunt’s clubs. Turned out I was born for the game. By the sixth hole I was 7 under par and he was furious. It’s just baseball, after all. I loved the moment I hit the white ball — all the world disappeared in the intense concentration (like hitting a baseball) and then you get to walk. ❤ Birds are just cool and I watch them (but don't admit it since I think birders are weird, but interesting). Yeah…sometimes you don't know what you like until you try it, for example, now I write a blog. 😉

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    • Love this comment, Martha. I feel I know you better and like you even more. I especially enjoyed the rattlesnake hole and your golf game. I hadn’t thought about it, but like you, I didn’t know how much I would enjoy blogging until I tried it.

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  3. This had me laughing and nodding all the way through it, relating to it utterly!

    I too am a word person; numbers grew to be utterly foreign by fifteen, and my sudoku contempt stems from simple envy.
    My parents were always getting out the bird book when I was younger, which would see me sneering and sweeping contemptuously from the room. Now I am older and have a nature-loving four year old son, I wish I’d stuck around “is that a pigeon or a dove? What’s the difference again?”

    I too have learned to say “never say never”, harbouring only a few envy-based grudges toward elusive hobbies like quilting, golf and scrap-booking (how I would secretly and dearly love to be capable at any of these), but I suppose I can’t be everything!

    Fantastic post! A joy as always.

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    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Sharyn; and you need to know how much I enjoyed getting to know you through this delightful comment with wonderful writing like “which would see me sneering and sweeping contemptuously from the room.” And I agree, I think most of my negative judgments toward the hobbies of others stemmed from envy.

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  4. Good morning Aunt Beulah, I am currently on holiday so have not been active on WordPress but your blog today really caught me as I read your words I was nodding my head. I could relate so much to what you were saying. I too am now retired and enjoying trying new activities and one of my resolutions is to hold my thoughts in my head and not speak them whew it is hard but often after an hour or two I breathe a sign of relief as something happens that I did not expect and I smile. Have a wonderful day 🙂

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    • Thank you, Lynne, for your comment. I’m glad you could relate to my words. Isn’t it lovely to be retired with time to try things? I like your thought “…something happens that I did not expect and I smile.” I’ll bet you’re a happy person.

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  5. Well, indeed Janet, never would have taken you for a judge mental sort…Golf, worked two summers at a golf course, loved it, but how is it a game can be played whilst drinking heavily? I was brought up to question every thing, and learn all I could of it before leveling judgement. I dislike numbers, and furniture, content with my ice-chest and Toilet Roll Box end table, but would not judge your tastes unless I stubbed a toe on it really hard. Great post, you will get some great comments I am sure.

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    • Well, sadly, I did used to be a bit judgmental, but only in my thoughts. Now even they have cleaned up their act. I wonder if drinking heavily would have improved my golf game. Your parents did you a favor when they taught you to question and learn before judging; they gave you a head start in life with that wisdom. It took years for me to adopt that sensible attitude. Why do you dislike numbers?

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      • Thanks Janet- Numbers? I have never figured out Suduku- have tried, my well documented elementary school years began poorly, I was 5, did not go to Kindergarten as Ma felt the teacher’s husband was the town pervert , got smacked the first day for knowing how to read, wet my pants, made a mess of my arithmetic paper and was sent to “special Help” to play pick-up sticks for the next three years. Never grasped numbers- poured my mind into words….It was fun bar-tending golfers, the more scoused they were the better they tipped. We used to bet who would fall out of the cart, after so many rounds-odd game that.

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      • Though it read funny, as a former teacher, I was saddened by your early school experience. Children deserve better from their teachers. But the result, pouring your mind into words, is evident in your writing and a great pleasure for everyone fortunate enough to read or hear it. As for the golfers, it seems like drunk driving either in the cart or off the tee could be problematic.On the other hand, maybe a drink or two might have relaxed me enough to let ‘er rip.

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    • No need to be sorry, Troy. I have tamed my tendency to judge others’ hobbies, but feel no such compunction about judging behavior, attitude, and harmful activities like texting while driving. So I’m thinking we’re in agreement.

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  6. I’ll never understand a fanatical fascination for guns, yet I admit I enjoyed target shooting with my Dad. In my opinion, NASCAR is all about secretly hoping to witness a spectacular crash, yet I found demolition derbys wild, loud, crazy and a lot of fun rooting for the big Lincoln bully to be taken out. Being smashed in the face until you’re cut and bleeding doesn’t seem like a sport, yet I admired Ali”s grace and skill. Climbing sheer rock cliffs without safety gear makes me question a person’s sanity, yet they’ll be heroic or the gene pool will be safer.

    I’m not sure what I’m saying here but I think basically I’m okay with the choices of others as long as no innocents (or me!) are hurt. Prepare for a cliche….to each their own…just don’t tell me to back away from the plants and put back the flowers at a nursery.

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    • Such wonderful, right-on examples you give for not judging the pastimes of others. I particularly related to your feelings about boxing and Ali. And, of course, I’m the one who’d being standing over your shoulder saying, “Buy it, buy it” as you ponder another plant.

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  7. I so understand. It’s like you’re me. Like why would I ever EVER go skiing?! It’s cold, wet, and not to mention cold and wet. My new bucket list thing is to ski on every continent in the world. Same with running – hopefully a marathon some time next year. I could go on. But you get the drift.

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    • Isn’t it wonderful when we discover pleasure in something we’d thought odd or not worth the effort. It sounds like you are active and adventurous. I admire your new passions, skiing and marathons, and wonder what you’ll do next: Swim the English Channel? Climb Mt. Everest? If you ever ski in my neck of the woods, we could meet; and that would be fun.

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  8. Once again you’ve nailed it, Janet, with many words of wisdom in this thoughtful post. I love your title too—the use of the word “question” instead of “judge” (which tends to put people on the defensive).
    I cringed though, thinking of the many times I derided others (particularly siblings) for taking pleasure in something that I thought was trivial.
    Thanks for your reminder that we should continue to be open to trying a variety of pursuits and experiences as we travel through life.

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    • You write such meaningful comments, Rita. I hadn’t thought about using question instead of judge; I just had a feeling that question was a better word. Now you explain it in a way that makes perfect sense.

      Don’t cringe. It’s OK to make fun of siblings!

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  9. Boy howdy haven’t I done the same in my younger days!Swore I’d never be caught dead wearing birkenstocks and am actually looking to buy a pair! Nowadays I look at “different things and say, “hm…that’s different” or the ever popular: “to each his own”! Has saved my “judgemental butt” on a number of occasions! Love your writing, Janet! I think if you and I lived closer we’d be friends!😊

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    • I thoroughly enjoyed this comment, especially your mention of birkenstocks which are looking better and better to me as well. I’m glad you enjoy my writing and I do yours, and, I too, sense if location allowed, we could be friends.

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