I am fascinated by how people spend their time. It’s a common enough question to ask someone, “What do you do for fun?” but I want to know what people do for not fun. I want to know what people do at 7pm on a Tuesday evening after day’s work. I suppose what I’m saying is that I like to know about people’s hobbies. What they do for fun when their time is their own. I personally have a fair amount of hobbies and I enjoy talking about any one of them. They aren’t hobbies that most people like to talk about, but that rarely slows me down.
A close friend recently said, “I don’t think I know anyone who can keep up with you when it comes to TV.” I watch a lot of TV, I suppose, but I think what’s more is that I remember it, or I rewatch series to the point of memorization. So if I know a TV show, I know it, and I bring it up in conversation constantly. On a typical weeknight, I don’t have time to watch TV, but every single night TV (Brooklyn Nine Nine, Raising Hope, or Gravity Falls) is part of my bedtime routine. So you can be that if we’re friends for more than a month I’m going to mention one of those shows.
It’s been my yearly goal for a number of years now to read 100 books. That takes time. God bless the person who asks, “What are you reading?” I am very grateful for these individuals who either are also readers and genuinely interested in books or are humoring me and loving me well because they know I love talking about books. It’s not unusual for me to be reading a novel and listening to an audiobook and also reading something nonfiction. That’s the only way I can have more than one book going at a time, and with 100 books to get through in a year (and millions of great books that I want to have read/listened to), it’s a common combo for me.
Occasionally I’ll have a puzzle going on my dining room table. I’ll puzzle while watching TV or listening to an audiobook. My favorite kind of multitasking.
I suppose my dogs are a hobby. I play with them, pet them, take them for walks. I certainly talk about them plenty. Last night one of my English students failed to close the gate behind him and Fred got out. As he does. I came outside to see my students off, saw the gate open, and shouted, “Where is Fred?!” Of course foster puppy Rosie and obedient Georgie were hanging out in the yard by the open gate and Fred was down the street. My English student Samuel took off running down the street and had Fred back within seconds. See, there’s a completely unprompted and unrelated story about my dogs.
I write. It’s become an intentional hobby particularly this year when I set out to write 500 words a day. The goal is to make writing a daily habit, but the goal is also to produce words, words that would otherwise sit inside my head. Sometimes I write whole stories or blog posts in my head that never come out through my fingers and into the world. It’s a shame, all of those lost stories and lost thoughts that don’t get told or shared even with this 500 word a day goal. Oh well, that’s life I guess.
Recently I have discovered a love for art. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have always loved art. Going to an art museum is a wonderful way to spend a day in my world. I like watching art being made and I like looking at pictures of art and I like getting art tattooed permanently on my skin. I like hanging up art made by people I love in my home. I like giving my students space and freedom to create. All of this has always been true. What I should have said is that recently I have discovered a love (and somewhat of a knack) for doodling. As a first grade teacher, drawing is part of my job. I illustrate vocabulary words and concepts and posters and puppet show backdrops. I’ve always been pretty decent as far as teacher drawing goes and can copy something from a book or picture in a passable way. I’ve always loved the idea of creating something from nothing, or something from garbage or otherwise useless parts. So it makes sense that I would love a bit of doodling. It’s fun to start a hobby that I can improve over time. In high school I started taking guitar lessons and promptly quit because I didn’t like being bad at something. But I don’t mind being bad at doodling. I like the idea of looking back a year from now and seeing how I’ve improved. Guess what I’m doing while doodling? Watching TV or listening to an audiobook… or music!
Even though those guitar lessons didn’t pan out and I never learned to play piano through sheer wanting (wouldn’t it be great to be able to play the piano?) I love music. I love listening to it (I’m currently listening to Lord Huron’s Strange Trails album on Spotify.) I love dancing and singing (although I’m not sure my neighbors love it so much). I wish in a choir for most of my adolescence and into college and it’s something I’d love to be able to do here if I could. I love lending my voice to something bigger, using my mediocre singing to create something beautiful. Different music gives me different feelings. It can pump me up or mellow me out, encourage me, give me confidence, give me joy, point me to Jesus. Music is fun and gorgeous and I love that it all came out of someone’s beautiful head.
All of these hobbies, on top of my full time teaching job and various online jobs, keep me pretty busy. Even though that’s true, I often find time – or steal time – to sit and think, which is kind of a hobby. In my laundry room, which is also kind of like a back porch, there is a chair so the cats have somewhere to sit (naturally), as that is where their food is and therefore where they hang out when they’re not out prowling. It’s not uncommon for me to go back there to open the back door for the dogs and end up just sitting a spell in that chair, looking out at my jungle yard and thinking my thoughts. I believe it is imperative that we all learn to sit with ourselves in silence – no TV or audiobooks or music or Facebook (does Facebook count as a hobby?), just ourselves and the world around us.
These are the things I do on Tuesday evening at 7pm after a day at work. How about you?
For now I have settled on the perfect amount of word nerd hobbies. I always have something to do that I enjoy and yet I don’t feel overwhelmed or overburdened by all of the things I want to do and all the ways I want to spend my time.
It wasn’t always like this, though. Even though I currently have less free time than I’ve ever had in my life (except maybe during that semester in college when I had 19 credit hours and worked 30 hours a week) I have more fruitful and fulfilling hobbies than ever before. Learn why in my next post. Cliffhanger!