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So, let’s take a step back. What is a ‘hobby’?  I looked this up on the Internet. My first ‘find’ was, “an activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure,” which somehow seems a little inadequate. I mean, is eating or drinking a hobby? I think not. A slightly better one, I thought, was, “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation”.  Another one was similar: a pursuit outside one's regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.”

OK, but here’s the thing: if you as a silver surfer started off this hobby when you were young, it is probable that, if you collected or made things, you have a lot of them by now. This sets me thinking pros and cons of hobby collecting or making. So here you are with a collection of 2000 china thimbles, 300 mugs, 200 plates, ninety-two model aircraft and so on – all collecting dust, and one day someone is going to have to dispose of them when you are gone. So, should you sell them now – IF there is a market for plastic, not-so-wonderfully painted Airfix planes?  But the point about collecting is that you had pleasure in collecting and you probably have memories. But then as you go through your plate collection you realise you have a Chinese Kangxi Period Famille Verte Charger which, a friend says, is worth well over a thousand pounds.  Take it along to the next local Antiques Road Show or just increase your Contents Insurance policy quickly?  Concerns!

Collecting or making things seem fairly straight forward hobbies. When I was young, stamp collecting was common. Both my wife and I both have old stamp albums but neither of us have, what was it, a Penny Red or a Penny Black that was going to make your fortune? I used to, in my early teenage years, have a bedroom ceiling strung with a dozen or more model planes, and yet I’ve never really seen myself as a hobby person.

Hobbies, on the Internet at least, seem to stretch definitions. For instance I got up a page of hobbies for men, only to find, “Cooking and Grilling, (OK), Homebrewing Beer (Yes, again), Skiing and Snowboarding (wooah, that’s a sport isn’t it? Can that be a hobby?), Leatherworking (yes, that fits), Chess (er… is a game a hobby?), Rocketry (what is that?), Investing (er.. I suppose so, why not?)” See, it’s not so clear is it?

So I looked up hobbies for women. I will make no comment otherwise I’m bound to be in trouble. This is not my list, just one on the Net: “Cooking, Ballroom Dancing, Singing, Running/Jogging, Horse riding, Reading, Learning a Foreign Language, Blogging.”  It strikes me these two lists are highly sexist!  I, a mere male, read, cook, blog and in the distant past have even done running and ballroom dancing! So what started out as a mundane series of thoughts, which then became in investigation, has now led me into deep water.

I think, going back to the beginning, key features have to be things done for pleasure or relaxation. I think when I look at that last word, playing Squash cannot be a hobby!  Neither could playing rugby or ice hockey.  But you have to be careful here because hours of intense concentration put into tapestry, say, or engraving, perhaps, doesn’t stop it being a hobby.

Now I know I should have gone there earlier but I have just been to Wikipedia on “List of Hobbies” and they include, games, sports and you name it! And I think their definition is the best so far: “an activity, interest, enthusiasm, or pastime that is undertaken for pleasure or relaxation, typically done during one's own time.”

Now I have a further question: do all nations have hobbies? I suspect not. I suspect hobbies are the prerogative of the rich and affluent nations. When I look through the Wikipedia list I’ve just referred to, I would guess that 99% of those lists would not be found in what used to be called ‘Third World countries’.

Moreover, I must revise my previous comment about not being a hobby person. At some time or other I have (from their list) done calligraphy, creative writing, drawing, do-it-yourself, electronics, homebrewing, model building, listening to music, origami, painting, reading, scrapbooking, and woodworking (and no doubt a few others as well). I think the give-away are my words, “at some time or other” which reminds me that most of these things were for only a limited period in my life. I have not done (from their list) Lock-picking or Lucid Dreaming!!! Nor for that matter, Baton Twirling or Fantasy Sports and, because I don’t even know what they are, several others of weird names!

The above list, incidentally was under the heading “Indoors casual hobbies” and when I look at the next list, ‘Outdoors’ and then, ‘Collection hobbies’ I realise I have done (and still do) a load more. I need to take more note of whoever it was who said, “Know yourself!”  If you want to sharpen up your memory of what you’ve done in life, that page, “List of Hobbies” on Wikipedia, is a good start.  (Health warning: Using the Internet can have a demeaning effect. I just came across a site that claimed to  have the world’s largest list of hobbies and they showed over 300, so even if on the previous lists I could raise a dozen over the years, I am still a mere amateur hobbyist - but then isn’t that by undefined definition what every hobbyist is, otherwise it ceases to be a hobby)

I may be wrong (yet again) here, but I get the impression that whenever you approach antique collecting programs on say the TV, the word ‘collectables’ rather suggests more of a money-making enterprise than the once upon a time simple hobby of collecting things for fun or shear pleasure.  I never collected stamps or planes or anything else for that matter with anything other than the pleasure of the moment in sight; the fact that your shell collection or collection of bird feathers are now of great interest to some group who attach large worth to them now, is simple icing on the cake of being a hobby collector.

When I look back I realise there are also unfulfilled desires in respect of hobbies. For instance, at one time I did a small amount of furniture renovation which gave me great pleasure and satisfaction, but time has passed and busyness has stopped me doing it more. Shame! I wonder if that is true of many people? I’m also aware that with the passing of time not all my faculties are as good as they used to be. At one time I made four-foot-wingspan gliders made out of balsa, tissue paper and what we called dope. My eyes need a brighter light these days and so, in respect of that particular hobby, I look back with a mixture of nostalgia and frustration. That’s life! Well let’s finish off with another little mini-hobby of mine – attaching humorous or meaningful quotes on this subject. Let’s see what we can find:  

Hobbies take place in the cellar and smell of airplane glue.

John Updike

“There are people everywhere, who fill their time, or what they believe to be their spare time, by collecting stamps, coins, medals, vases, postcards, matchboxes, books, clocks, sport shirts, autographs, stones, clay figurines, empty beverage cans, little angels, cacti, opera programmes, lighters, pens, owls, music boxes, bottles, bonsai trees, paintings, mugs, pipes, glass obelisks, ceramic ducks, old toys, carnival masks, and they probably do so out of something that we might call metaphysical angst, perhaps because they cannot bear the idea of chaos being the one ruler of the universe, which is why, using their limited powers and with no divine help, they attempt to impose some order on the world, and for a short while they manage it, but only as long as they are there to defend their collection, because when the day comes when it must be dispersed, and that day always comes, either with their death or when the collector grows weary, everything goes back to its beginnings, everything returns to chaos.” 
José Saramago

“It can be coins or sports or politics or horses or music or faith... the saddest people I've ever met in life are the ones who don't care deeply about anything at all. Passion and satisfaction go hand in hand, and without them, any happiness is only temporary, because there's nothing to make it last.”

Nicholas Sparks

“To be happy in life, develop at least four hobbies: one to bring you money, one to keep you healthy, one to bring you joy, and one to bring you peace.” 

 Stan Jacobs

Today is life - the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto.
 Dale Carnegie


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