I’m starting to believe that every hobby in the world is interesting. If I can just understand it, and the reasons behind it, I will find it interesting. I say this with such confidence because I’ve been proved wrong too often to ignore. Here is a short list of some of the activities that I used to label pointless, boring, unnecessarily time-consuming, and so on.
Baking from Scratch
Baking simple things is unnecessary and a waste of time. Then I read on someone’s blog that baking helps her to relax. It forces the mind to focus on the task at hand, driving out the problems, questions, thoughts of her mind. Whoa. That makes sense to me. I get stressed, and I’d like to try that. So last week, my daughter and I tried it out. We started simply enough– a cheesecake. I must note that being the novices that we are, we searched for the most basic recipe.
Although we bought ingredients for the pie crust, we had forgotten to buy a pie dish. By the time we went to buy one, we were tired and hungry and picked up a pre-made piecrust instead. Next time we’ll be better. I think we both hated and enjoyed the uncertainty of not knowing how the pie would turn out.
Checking it’s progress through the window was exhilarating. With cake from the box, you always know it’ll turn out just right. Just set your timer and soon you’ll have something perfectly delicious to eat. This from scratch business is a wild card.
Birdwatching has to be the most boring hobby ever. Period. Outside of ice fishing. Period. I couldn’t imagine why people would want to sit around watching birds hop around. Yawn. Then a couple of years ago, I moved back into my childhood home. It’s surrounded by trees– avocado, mango, papaya, banana, all planted by my dad. There are other trees too, and plants. And the trees bring the birds.
I started waking up early and, like many of us, would just lay there awake. While I laid, I listened to the songs of the birds. There’s chirping, twittering, screeching, whistling. I grew enraptured by the sheer variety of their sounds and decided to start having my coffee on the backyard swing. It’s there that I started watching the birds. I noticed that one in particular stood in the same spot everyday and whistled his little lungs out.
What was he saying? Who was he talking to?
I’d be busy watching one bird, when a pair of birds would swoop through the air in a sort of catch me if you can game. Are they playing around, just having fun? Are they fighting over food or territory? What determines the winner? I’d try to mimic their sounds and watch for a reaction. I watch their vigilance with my own. Every moment for them is busy. I wonder what that feels like? Some people know. It’s not miserable to the birds, the constantly being busy, in the way that it is for us. They all fly differently, some with smooth slow strides and some with short rapid flaps. This reminds me of people. I start to understand the joy of birdwatching. I grow interested.
I say to myself, I should do cardio, as I walk into the gym and head for the free weights. But I hate cardio. I ran track in high school. You’ll be surprised to learn that I actually hated running. I hated it because I had zero endurance. I was fast; really fast. But after two sprints, I was practically a useless member of the team. Couple that with the shin splints that I was prone to. I remember, during practices, running to the finish line and crawling back to start. I remember clenching my teeth and squeezing my fist trying not to cry as one of my team members dragged her thumb over my throbbing shin. Then there was the bag of ice that’d be wrapped around my leg, dripping cold water into my sneaker. Can you guess why I wasn’t having much fun?
A few years later, I was broke and a gym membership for the first time in years, was out of the question. So I started running every morning. I started slowly, but as the weeks went by I found myself craving it. I would hop out of bed and feel a driving need to run. I felt great. My body reacts well to running. Then I got a gym membership and cardio went to the wayside. And I told myself constantly that I should start running again, but picking up running from scratch has always been one of the levels of hell for me.
I’ve always been drawn to weight-lifting. I love feeling strong, capable, toned. I realize that my body reacts beautifully to regular cardio, but I didn’t want to do it. Didn’t have the motivation. Every night I’d make plans to run in the morning. Every morning I’d abandon those plans. Then, recently, I got my bike. I’ve been riding every day and loving it. I’ve been pushing my legs to new limits, pushing my endurance to new levels. Getting to know my neighborhood. Braving further distances. Now I want to buy one of those distance trackers. And a route tracker. Wait. Don’t I hate cardio? Apparently not. I just needed to change the small definition of it that my mind held. Now if I want to sprint for 10 hard minutes and be done, there’s no guilt. My bike provides the endurance training.
A Few Other Things
I didn’t think much of shepherding until I read The Alchemist. Or website building until I needed one. Or social media marketing until I needed it. Or building a business until it was my main goal. Construction is interesting. Embroidery is interesting, and so is auto mechanics. Remember as a kid watching the activity of ants? We paid attention then. We knew that everything was interesting. It still is.
My point is this: Give everything a chance. Keep your mind open to every learning opportunity and opportunity to experience something new. I believe that every activity in the world holds fascination if we are willing to give it a chance. Next time we find ourselves bored of our routine, let’s look around at what others are into and maybe give it a go. At the very least, have them explain the reason for their passion. Listening to someone speak passionately about their passion is, you guessed it, incredibly interesting.