The Hobby: Cultivating Space and Time for Personal Growth

Non-conformity is the highest evolutionary attainment of social animals… a hobby is perhaps creation’s first denial of the “peck-order” that burdens the gregarious universe, and of which the majority of mankind is still apart.

Aldo Leopold

Life is motion. Modern society involves both the chase and desire for leisure. To many, this state of leisure is a motionless absorption of the artificial. A recovery of sorts, but from what are we recovering? Are we experiencing “mental” exhaustion? If so, the prescription should involve nature and/or movement. With the combination being preferred. Creativity is a stimulus for growth. A stimulated mind is an antidote to mental fatigue and the stagnation of the office job (any work requiring a screen).

A hobby may be exactly what is needed. Yet, one cannot be assigned for you. You must manifest the desire from within. Think analog. Visceral, real, maybe an archaic form of action. Analog is physical: a letter vs. an email; a book vs. an e-book; a record vs. a digital file; a photograph vs. a pic; a trail vs. a treadmill, and so on. The path of less convenience constitutes the hobby. It will take time, though it is in the taking of time that emotion, love, and intention are expressed and communicated.

Your hobby will require a substantial amount of freespace. This is not a bad thing. Here you may discover how little your life has afforded you. How the machine of progress and commerce has propelled you onto a path you didn’t critically examine. It may make you better at your day job. Having an outlet for creativity allows self-expression that may not otherwise be a part of your days, which in turn makes your free-time more valuable. That which requires productivity (work), and affords both the time and financial means to explore the depths of passion, is valued even more.

The ability to escape relieves the pressure to conform to society’s expectation of human behavior. you have the freedom to explore, but lacking an outlet, you may follow that which is advertised and sold to the masses as socially acceptable leisure and entertainment.

Yet, a hobby need not be a goal-less endeavor. Your chosen outlet may demand persistence. Obtainment of skill requires commitment and repetition. Life is movement. Nature affords all that modern life is missing: fresh air, sunlight, water, flora, fauna, animals, birds, insects, … life. Your self-expression is a manner of personal choice. Make a decision and chart a course. What you set out to create (or undertake) should be a solitary act, devoid of conflict and negotiation. From isolation follows creation. Endurance activities, where we are often alone with our thoughts, can be the place where we become artists. This giving in to movement and becoming an athlete is immensely satisfying.

Fitness, a broad term, often associated with an outcome, yet equally associated with the act, can be a defining element of a person’s lifestyle. Many take up and dive deep into the hobby of fitness because of its inseparability from beauty and image. Obtainment of competence and skill, through an extensive investment of time, displays itself in image, and ability.

How you choose to leisure is up to you. Time is an illusion. A lifetime is not a continual fulfillment of commitments. It’s not a checklist. Your lifetime is a daily decision. Decide for yourself, from within. Listen to your heart. Honor the gift of life by living. Appreciating simplicity makes the slow, physical act of walking a possibility. Remove the constraint of time, of a fixed ending, and you may find yourself walking all day, all weekend, all month, and all year. Motion. Your way of living can be much greater than your vocation. Your hobby, your fitness, can afford you endless experiences.

From years of relection and journaling I’ve come to define my parameters of living. To accept the message from your heart you/we/I must be willing to define a successful life, then live it. The story you tell around the next campfire will hopefully be born from your own journey.

Onward and Upward.

To me, the true artist is one who lives completely, harmoniously, who does not divide his art from living, whose very life is that expression, whether it be a picture, music, or his behavior; who has not divorced his expression on a canvas or in music or in stone from his daily conduct, daily living. That demands the highest intelligence, highest harmony… the true artist is the man who has that harmony.

Krishnamurti