I had my first visit with a new doctor today. He asked me a lot of questions, including this one:
“I know you’re homeschooling two children, so you probably don’t have a lot of extra time, but I ask everyone this question: What are your hobbies?”
I thought for a second. The first thing that popped into my head was “woodworking.” This despite the fact that the only things remotely woodworking-related I’ve done since I made a bookshelf in junior high wood shop is assembling Ikea furniture and little pine kits I get for my kids. I just think woodworking sounds like a good, utilitarian hobby to have. I also like the idea of working on model trains, but that’s another one that I’ve never really done. I went for the only two things I could think of that I do that aren’t directly related to childrearing, homeschooling, or housecleaning.
“Well,” I answered, “I read and I blog.”
“What was that?” he asked, leaning forward and turning his left ear toward me.
“I…read? And I blog?” I answered, unsure whether he asked me to repeat because he hadn’t heard me, because he didn’t understand me, or because those are such lame hobbies he needed to hear me say them again. “I mean,” I clarified, “I do other things, too.” Pause. “Those are just the ones that I do, like…regularly.”
Yes, I’m one month shy of my 37th birthday, and I said, “like” to my doctor.
On the drive home we got stuck in traffic (because we always get stuck in traffic on the way home), which gave me plenty of time to think about what things I do that could be classified as “hobbies.”
I knit and crochet, but one or two projects a year doesn’t seem like enough to make it a hobby. I take photos, but I think to make photography a hobby, I’d have to have more interest in it than just keeping my point-and-shoot charged and in my diaper bag (the fact that I still carry a diaper bag even though my youngest has been out of diapers for 2+ years is a separate issue). I’d have to have a good camera or have used PhotoShop sometime in my life or have taken a class.
I did actually take a black-and-white photography class in high school. This was in the days before digital cameras, and we worked in a darkroom and spooled our film onto metal reels with our hands inside light-proof bags. We developed and fixed and washed and then hung our negatives to dry until it was time to cut them and take them over to the enlarger and see if this long process yielded anything worth a passing grade. My teacher clearly didn’t think I had much aptitude for photography. I would ask her questions about how to stop the film from sticking to itself on the reel or exactly how to keep bubbles from forming in the developing solution, but she was always too busy working with the students who actually had promise in the field of photography to help me.
So, photography isn’t really a hobby, it’s just something I do.
I have this sense that something isn’t a hobby unless I immerse myself in it like I see other people do, but I think maybe that’s too strict a definition of “hobby.”
The All-Knowing Wikipedia says a hobby is just something done for fun and relaxation, “typically…during one’s leisure time.” So maybe writing can be my hobby even if I don’t seek out the company of writers or attend workshops or even write every day. I can include singing in my list of hobbies even though I don’t go out to vocal performances or listen to showtunes or operas or choral pieces while I’m cooking meals or driving down the highway (although I do take weekly voice lessons and sing in the church choir). I don’t need to frequent Williams-Sonoma or own a Le Creuset pot to classify cooking as one of my hobbies, and I don’t need to go backpacking every weekend—or ever—to say that hiking is one of my hobbies.
So, next time I see the doctor, I’ll tell him that my hobbies include not only reading and blogging, but knitting, crocheting, hiking, cooking, photography, singing, writing, learning Latin, seeking spiritual growth in a group setting, cross-country road trips, and amateur birding.
And while I know that “worldbuilding,” which is included in Wikipedia’s list of hobbies, is some kind of gaming/sci-fi thing, I might add that to the list, too, just because it sounds really cool if you don’t quite know what it is.
My doctor will cock his head and say, “What was that last one on the list?” and I’ll say, “Worldbuilding. I’m not just raising children; I’m building a world.”
Yes, I like the sound of that.