Cultivate a New Hobby

Hobbies, in many ways, constitute a luxury. Hobbies require time, money, and thoughtfulness. For most in the world, any one of these three constituents is scarce or non-existent.

But in our own daily world, we experience such a paucity of human culture, that I am no longer convinced we are well off. Surfeit does not mean satisfied. From any number of streaming options for shows to more products in a grocery store than could ever be imagined- 8,948 in 1975 to over 47,000 in 2008 we have more than ever and are still found lacking. Of course, those statistics are now 10 years old and do not include Amazon.

In this world of rapidification, hobbies matter more than ever to our well-being. We need not perform every activity because we have to the best, fastest, most creative – despite what we may see on social media feeds. We do, however, need to slow down and appreciate every one of our senses and the beauty they absorb.

So, this summer I planted a container garden. Now, some may consider sunflowers to be weeds, but I do not care one bit. In spite of the package instructions and because they were on sale, I started my seeds in mid-July. That’s the thing about weeds… they will grow regardless.

I love the smell of soil after watering my lovelies.

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On the railing to the left is a geranium that I purchased in June … because I came across a book on Geraniums in the used bookstore. Who knew there are more than 400 varieties of pelargoniums? One of my many Facebook club memberships now includes Pelargoniums International.

In the mornings I go out with my coffee cup, pull weeds, water each container, encourage my little plants, and listen to the sound breezes make in each plant. Every plant sounds different. The sounds of air running through tall grasses are my favorite.

My sunflower seeds sprouted, and despite an evil neighborhood cat making use of my soil, grew and their sunny faces greet me home.

Then, as the school year started I decided I wanted to learn how to make bread from scratch. My first loaf, a potato flour bread, finished out a little dense. I still have much to learn about proofing the yeast, kneading time, rising, and punching.

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And yet, I beamed broadly at the finished product. One of Martha’s Rules is to, “Make it Beautiful.” Before baking, I brushed the top of the loaf with coconut oil and then sprinkled artisanal salt and savory spices. My Sweetie came over and we enjoyed slice after slice – just toasted with butter and homemade jam (not by me). Is there anything as decadent as a slice of homemade bread, lightly toasted with sweet cream butter and jam?

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So many of my friends and loved ones participate in hobbies – woodworking, canning, knitting, painting – that it gave me pause. Why do these hobbies? Certainly not for financial gain, international renown, or resume building.

Hobbies humanize. Without hobbies, my appreciation for true artists could only be anemic if it existed at all. How would I understand the care and practice and refinement that went into such artistry if I had not first tried my hand at a smaller fractal?

Hobbies equilibrate. Humming while I weed, the repetition and rhythm of kneading, getting lost in my work gives my brain a break. Drama moves so far to the side of my thinking that I no longer worry and my shoulders drop six inches.

Hobbies satisfy. Grades, performance assessments, and rubrics brook no currency with hobbies. Smell, sound, sight, taste, and haptic sensation count. Puttering along with my plants or bringing a new loaf of bread to life satisfies my atrophied senses.

Set aside the gerbil-wheel-newsfeed scroll and get absorbed in something beautiful. You can read about the “seven most important morning habits of successful CEOs” tomorrow. Or never.

Today, cultivate your hobby.

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