Dictionary.com defines a hobby as “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.” Recently, I’ve been strangely obsessed with the concept of a hobby, probably because over the past several years I haven’t really had one. This is embarrassing to admit, as it probably leaves you with an image of some crazy cat lady glued to her recliner, never leaving her house except to buy catnip and kitty litter. Yet even that would be inaccurate, because even crazy cat ladies have a hobby (cats, of course). So I guess that puts me one step below the feline fanatic. Yikes.
As for why I remained hobby-less for so long, the answer, after much reflection and scrutiny, is glaringly obvious. It’s not that I didn’t have interests (I did); it’s not that I didn’t have talents (I did); it’s not even that I didn’t have time (yes, I had that too). It’s that I didn’t have the confidence to admit that I deserved to spend some of that time on myself. I, like many of you, have a job and a family, and if I’m not giving them every second I have, Mayim Bialik and the attachment-parenting brigade will hunt me down and kill me.
Well, get out your gun, Mayim, because I’ve decided that that’s a risk I’m willing to take. Besides, what’s the alternative? Wouldn’t I die anyway after years of forgetting that I exist? When I forfeit my interests, my passions – my hobbies – my spirit dies, and that makes me unbearably sad. It’s a noble, commendable thing to give to others, but it’s a bold, valiant thing to take what’s yours. I believe this because it’s true.
After years of putting the hobby on hold, I’ve recently started writing again. (I know, how predictably cliché for an English teacher to enjoy writing. It makes me cringe a little, actually.) When I started about a month ago, an incredible thing happened. After five months of battling terrible insomnia, I started sleeping again. My hobby, my passion, did what no sleeping medication could do – it fixed me, put me in a place where I could see straight again. I could spend hours unpacking the how and why, but if you have a passion and you exercise it, you already know. Talk about power.
Dictionary.com is wrong. A hobby is not “an interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation;” it is a critical component of one’s life, as necessary as eating and sleeping. Without it, we cannot live, at least not valuably.
Do you have a passion? For the sake of your spirit, indulge it.