My friend and I were talking about hobbies the other day.
Her: “Someone asked me recently what my hobbies were and I had trouble answering….ummm working out…reading….”
Me: “God I know. I left my hobbies behind in high school. Too busy chasing boys and going to parties. Come to think of it, they’re still the main two things getting in the way of me having hobbies…”
For the last few years, I have been so driven at work that hobbies were only allowed if they showed some potential of making me money. Photography…check. Blogging…check.
I have to stretch as far back as my childhood to find a time when I did things just for the love of it. Actually, this was a time when things were done purely for the love. I made $5 a week to make my bed and that was plenty to live on (I still have gripes with Mum about this child labour).
Over the first two years of high school, if you asked me about my hobbies, the list was extensive:
Singing in a choir
Attending writing courses
Writing poetry and short stories
Both Jazz and classical Ballet classes
(I definitely owe my parents a great retirement home)
I was a creative butterfly. The image at the top of this page is a poem called Snowdrops that Mum dug out the other day. I wrote this at 11 years old. I was inspired to write it for my Grandad as a present, because he was sick in hospital.
And all these things just seemed normal. They weren’t hobbies, they were me living my life.
When I really think about it, I got completely off track when I stopped doing things solely for the purpose of creating. Any troubles I have had started the year I gave up the things that fed my soul to do the things that fed my view of what constitutes being a grown-up.
Working too hard, for too little, to live not enough. And then complaining about it wholeheartedly.
So this year, I decided to slow down and start doing some of the things I used to do before I got distracted. Not because they are going to make me money, or even lead into a career. But because they make me a more complete person. They make me happy. They increase my resilience to the bad things that often line the path. They build confidence. They make my heart beat faster and louder instead of hiding behind my ribs hoping for the quiet life.
If we want to be happy, we have to push against a culture of working 50 hour weeks and make time for the things that will not make us money, that will probably cost us money, but will raise our well-being, make us nicer humans, better partners and more competent parents.
I watched a movie the other day called Enemy with Jake Gyllenhaal. At the start, the university lecturer is talking to the class about totalitarian states. And how one of the first things a dictator will do is limit ways in which people can express themselves. Why? Because a lack of self-expression keeps us trapped, reliant, subservient and limits free will. It cages us. Kind of like a job without purpose.
I start back at music school this week. No doubt something funny will happen and I’ll blog about it.
But just for the love, not the money.
Snowdrops (by 11-year old Katie)
Deep into August when winter is melting away
Out come the snowdrops in one great spray
In the depths of the valley,
Or the bottom of the garden
They’ll find a way to spring to life.
Their tall green stalks sway in the breeze
Out pop their little white flowers
Rustling beneath the trees.
They look like a white dress inlined with gold
Just sitting there no matter the weather
Warm or cold
They stand tall and bright against the mountains so blue,
So don’t trample them down whatever you do.
And at night when it’s dark and the stars shine so bright
The snowdrops play beneath the moonlight.
And when their season is done and they disappear
Just remember they’ll be back next year.
Much love XX