September 28, 2019

HOBBY LOBBY:

Americans Need a Hobby (Daniel Buck , 9/28/19, FEE)

This lifestyle of workism paired with media catharsis has left millennials and Gen-Zers caught in an upward trend of depression, anxiety, and suicidality. Gone are T.S. Eliot's ghosts in his Wasteland ambling across London Bridge, discussing the bodies of World War II buried in the garden; now, blue-lit apparitions amble down the hallways between moments of engagement and activity in the workplace, car seat, and classroom. As we consume more and more content, our lives become ever more devoid of it.

I compare this contemporary dichotomy to a lifestyle hiding contentedly in E.B. White's essays. Between his moments of mindless observations and literary pursuits, he maintained a small farm that required herding his flocks, collecting eggs, planting, watering, and fertilizing. Did any of it help his writing? Perhaps, but only in so far as it gave him subject matter to write about. Was it mindlessly cathartic like binge-watching television? I doubt it. And yet there is a fullness of life and even peace in his essays that our 20-minute episodes cannot create.

Between his state of work and relaxation, both of which he did much, there was a third mode of being. Work is done for what it accomplishes. Leisure activities bring relaxation. Both have an alternative goal. A hobby is done for itself.
It wasn't productive enough to be considered work; it wasn't relaxing enough to be leisure. It was a life full of hobbies.

I reflected on what I considered my hobbies. Some might call exercising a hobby, but my breathless search of personal records makes it too productive for such a designation. Perhaps reading is a hobby, but when my choices fell into either philosophy or fantasy, my reading bordered on productivity or catharsis. I didn't have a hobby.

Hobbies fall between the productivity-catharsis divide. Woodworking, embroidery, collecting, crafting, fishing, or any other is not productive like work is. Work is done for what it accomplishes. Leisure activities bring relaxation. Both have an alternative goal. A hobby is done for itself.

Hobbies will become increasingly important as work disappears, offering us opportunities to cultivate skills for their own sake.



Posted by at September 28, 2019 9:48 AM

  

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