Hobbies for life

Even my leisure ties into my long-term goals.

One of the reasons why I’m interested in learning more about sewing and gardening is that these are hobbies that I can pursue throughout life. In fact, they’re stereotypical elderly pursuits, like golf is. These are hobbies that people can enjoy for decades, where there is plenty of room to grow, and where deep experience results in great satisfaction.

I like imagining what it’ll be like when I’m older and more experienced. What will it be like when I can make whatever outfits I want and whatever organizers I need? What will it be like when I know how to grow my favourite fruits and vegetables, when I understand the rhythm of the seasons and the lay of the land? The same goes for my other interests, like cooking, writing, taking pictures, and playing the piano. The learning curve stretches before me.

I know that even misshapen seams and wilted plants can help me get there. It’s all part of the learning process.

When I shared this realization with W-, he smiled. He said, “Not like computer gaming.” Hobbies like computer gaming don’t seem to have as much depth or longevity, and pastimes like watching television, well, they just pass the time.

I suspect this is worth thinking about. Can your hobbies grow over the long term?

  • I hope it’s worth thinking about, because I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it!

    So many of “hobbies” I’ve come to see as simply consumption. Only if you get better at a task that makes something and enjoyment drives the activity can you really call it a hobby. Computer programming (or Drupal tinkering) is the closest thing I can call a hobby. It was seeing Lester Freamon of The Wire, who made dollhouse furniture while working at a desk job, that first exposed the need for me to find something physical to create. After having just started to read Wisdom of the Hands do I even more seriously crave something that my ten fingers can put together.

    Hobbies don’t have to grow over the long term. They do, however, have to give you the perspective that things you do exclusively with your mind can’t and they have to be something you do without resistence.

  • Nice post. To me, hobbies are simply leisure activities that you enjoying doing. If you enjoy something, I think you typically get better at it.

    Yes, some are consumption or creation, others are creative or physical – and there may be those that even lead to income (although it probably stops being a hobby then, no?)

    For me, my hobbies are golf (which you mention are typical stereotypical elderly pursuit – I am old) and photography (a very new passion about 6 months old only),

  • With a million different things you can be interested in, why not cultivate interests that can grow along with you? =)

    I’d say computer programming is something that grows with you quite a bit, particularly if you pick up a scripting language that you can use to quickly build tools for yourself. You develop your logic and problem-solving skills, and you can automate some of your work.

    I like sewing and gardening because they’re manual. It’s nice to exercise creativity outside work! =)

  • A Hobby is a leisure-time activity that is pursued for pleasure. For me, a hobby is most satisfying when I can create something … exploring new recipes (I have a variety of Chinese cook books I am exploring), playing the piano, or the intellectual satisfaction of learning something new.

    It is good to have a hobby that is different to the day time job, although I learned Python and SQLite as a hobby in order to catalogue my CD collection!

  • paolodlr

    Although I sort of agree that the best hobbies are those that grow with you, I also disagree that you should simply dismiss other hobbies that at first glance don’t seem to have any ‘depth or longevity.’ If we are truly passionate about something, and we really get into it, then we get more involved in it by joining groups, clubs, and communities about that something. And from this community we may (or may not) find ourselves in the company of people that could possibly end up having life-long friendships with. For as long as we are making (worthwhile and meaningful) connections, through seemingly less meaningful hobbies, then we are in actuality, though perhaps indirectly, doing something that help us grow over the long term.

  • That’s true. =) Not everything needs to tie into the long term, and even short-term things can lead to long-term friendships.

  • Victor Calvert

    My hobbies of the moment are: assorted computer stuff (usually Ruby/SQL, and Linux), and photography (mostly digital, but I’ve got a little bit of nice 35mm gear).

    I’ve also played jazz trumpet at a reasonably professional level, and was reasonably good at (social) dance (mostly East Coast Swing).

    I’ve also played with 3D modeling, 2D digital art (tablet+Corel Painter), and a few others, and occasionally play some computer games (average once a week; sometimes I go for 2-3 months without gaming). I’ve gotten roped into some gardening and car repair, and those are fun enough, but require consistently available time, which I don’t (yet) feel like I have.

    I’ve also been the lead artist for two small computer games (Windows only), built in three-month cycles, even though I’m much more comfortable coding in a time-crunch than doing artistic things. And, yes, the graphic at the top of that page was mine, as was all of the art for the older of the two games (save the level design and associated textures).

  • Victor Calvert

    I’m an application developer. Could you tell? (Not including much relevant stuff beyond the hobby link was because I was not entirely focused earlier.)

    Nearly everything that I’ve considered as one of my hobbies at some point has been something useful…except the gaming, unless I become a game developer. That may still happen, but it’s not likely with today’s economy…

    The only other possible edge case is music, but classical and jazz musicians are nearly always great people.

    Going forward, I’m probably going to add back a couple of the others (dancing is very likely), but probably not gaming, as I’m rather frustrated with Windows right now. And, of course, there are always more programming projects and related reading; HTDP has been on the list for a while.

  • Some of my hobbies seem to be for the long term and some might not quite fit there. Photography with film cameras gave me a different perspective on a lot of things because from there I started to become more conscious of the use of color in a lot of things. Manga and anime also give me lessons in life and some of them have helped me think through some of the toughest phases of my life. So I suppose it’s a matter of how we tie things together. :)

  • I’ve been a painter and visual artist for many years and while I hope(d) sometimes that it was much more than just a hobby (there is still time for that!) the time I have to make art is often just what’s left on the margins. And indeed what i am doing and how in my art practive changes over time and filfills a huge need i have to be creative and in a space without anyone else’s rules! better than being a punk rock singer as one ages….