Get On Your Hobby Horse

It used to be normal, even expected, for adults to have hobbies. You know, something you pursue just because you like it, not because it could land you a job, a client, or whatever eventually. But in our mad-rush existence, hobbies are one of the first things to go. And that’s more than a shame, it’s smothering some important part of you.

Just so you don’t think I’m all talk and no walk, I’ll let you in on a little recent secret: I joined my church choir, just a few weeks before Easter. Yes, roughly the definition of insanity, in hindsight.

Because, you see, I did not know how to read music (and mostly still don’t). And oddly, choir has changed since I sang in the children’s choir and the Christmas pageant 30-some years ago. Even in my small church, with its 20-member choir (on a good Sunday), we sing in parts, sometimes a cappella, and sometimes even in Latin. Holy moly! It’s been the rough equivalent of 1) learning to drive, 2) on a stick shift, while 3) on the interstate. I have somehow managed to survive.

(By the way, check out Eddie Izzard’s take on Church of England/Episcopelian music here. It’s within the first two minutes. At about 6:30, the hilarious Cake or Death segment starts. If you haven’t seen that, your life is not complete.)

But here’s the funny thing: even though I’m constantly fluffing notes, breathing in the wrong places, and generally making an ass of myself, I’m having a total ball. I’ve always liked singing, but never took it seriously.

“Seriously” possibly is the wrong word here, because it implies a lot of judgment that I just don’t have about this. I don’t care whether I’m the star or in the upper tier of singers, or if the choir director thinks I’m any good (OK, I do care if she thinks I’m totally tuneless). I’m just doing this because I like singing, and it feels really good, down to my soul, to be part of making something beautiful.

That’s what I would urge you to find for yourself, as you search for career alternatives: find at least one thing to do simply because it gives you pleasure. Not everything we do has to lead to a career or other tangible payout. Your days as a lawyer are filled with bottom lines and end results; balance out your life with something that offers nothing except the satisfaction of doing it. It makes all the rest of the crap along your career search path so much more bearable.

3 thoughts on “Get On Your Hobby Horse

  1. Loooove this post. Absolutely need to have interests just for the fun of it. A few years back I took a pottery class because I envisioned myself spinning these beautiful pots on the wheel. I was terrible at it. Even the teacher commented on it. I wanted to quit so badly but I stuck with it. Did I get any better? No. But I did win this beautiful bowl my teacher made in a drawing at the end of the class. Every time I look at it I smile.

    Not only do you need hobbies you need hobbies you’re not so good at. Why in the world would you want to do that? Because it helps you develop tolerance and a sense of humor. That also makes the rest of the crap along your career search path more bearable.

  2. This was a great post! I’ve recently gotten into cross-stitching. Now, you might think I’m a middle aged woman but I’m actually 31. I’ve been fed up with being a lawyer since I was a 2L. So, I’m going to leave it soon and knowing the obstacles that lie ahead of me in finding a new career I decided to relax and do something I enjoy doing. I discovered cross-stitching through my mother when I was a child and became inspired to give it another shot. It truly is amazing to have something you enjoy and that allows you to unwind from the pressure of billables and the looming anxiety of leaving your career behind.

  3. I love cross-stitching too! I did it as a teen. Perhaps counter-intuitively, I find it very relaxing. As is bargello, which is the easiest form of needlepoint there is; you only have to know how to count, because the sole stitch is vertical, varying only by length. Despite that, bargello patterns can be quite complex and incredibly beautiful; many of the patterns are late medieval in origin.

    I think the repetition to needlework is quite soothing to many, which is why knitting and crochet are so popular right now. People need an anti-dote to their 24/7 iPod lives. And while yarn and thread shopping is addictive, it’s less costly than therapy. ;D

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