I mean really…my hobby completes me. I am a far cry from a sentimental person, but what does that even mean? Does that mean that I am not a “hole” person if I don’t have my hobby? Does it mean that my brain isn’t working, my heart isn’t beating and my lungs aren’t filling with air?
It actually does mean that I am not a hole person. But not in that mushy gushy sentimental over the top whatever sort of nauseating, Jerry McGuire, way.
Let me break it down, and to start, let me clarify that I plan to try and do this without comparing myself to others who “don’t” have a hobby. Everyone’s completeness is different.
So first, what do I mean by hobby? For me, a hobby is an activity I do outside of caring for my family or “punching a clock for someone else or myself” that earns me a pay check from which I have to pay taxes, you know, a job. For me…again…trying not to compare, my family and “house work” require a varying degree of time on a daily or weekly basis, and often I totally just negate the housework. My “job” requires 40+ hours a week, of which I do NOT negate, because I love it! Sleep requires 8ish hours a day “for good health,” blah blah. But all that other time is what I personally consider fair game. I can fill that space with anything “I” want to do.
For more than six years, I filled that time with running, lifting weights and pottery. Looking back, I will tell you that without those things I would feel lost…like floundering, restless, rudderless. I KNOW this to be true because after my Tarlov Cyst diagnosis, I lost all three of these hobbies. This made it very real for me. My “incompleteness.” My mind would fill with garbage. My body would feel less like getting up each day. My words were more concentrated in negative arenas. Not that I was a bad person or an awful person without the hobbies…but something was missing. There was a clear void. A void that needed and longed to be filled.
So, lets pause there for a second. A void. An empty space.
Hang with me…I am going theological here for second. Full disclosure, my Masters degree is in Religion with a concentration in Christian Education and Christian Spirituality. I am a TRUE believer in spiritual disciplines in their wonderful and many forms. I also enjoy discovering “new” and “personalize” spiritual disciplines. I once led my share of Pottery and Prayer retreats. I am a rostered leader, a Deacon, in the ELCA – Lutheran church. I would be “not hole” if I didn’t acknowledge that I feel a deep sense of connection between my making and how I understand God’s relationship to me. Being created in the image of the Creator, makes me by nature creative, and everyone else for that matter, it just may come out differently for them…you know not all quilty, sewy, etc. More like ideas or relationships or organization….etc.
So, that said, for me, without some sort of “creative” outlet there is a void, because I am not paying attention to my “hole” created self. If my work were creative instead of more systematic, then perhaps that would fill that void, but it doesn’t because it isn’t. I long for a different type of creative. The type of creative that imagines and dreams and puzzles and gets my hands into the midst of the mess and turning that mess from chaos to beauty and functionality. I literally loooong for that…there is a pull…desire…drive…that when I am creating feels more at peace. When I sat at my pottery wheel, and now when I sit at my sewing machine, I loose all track of time. I disappear into this place of forward movement. My shoulders relax even though they are highly engaged. My mind gets lost in construction instead of the noise of the world. My heart fills with wonder that I can “do this thing” and it is recognizable and usable and beautiful. If I stopped here with the explanation it would be enough for me to know that my choice of hobby – sewing – completes me. But there is more.
Not all attempts at hobbies have “completed” me.
Finding my hobbies throughout my adult life has been often painful, and at other times accidental. At times, I have tried to force them in a more intentional way, and it has worked and it has backfired. What I have learned from all of this, I guess, is how to “tell” if it is actually “my” hobby. Does it match me? Does it belong to me? Does it fit me?
How do I tell if my hobby is actually “my” hobby?
By watching others with their hobbies.
My daughter, a 14 year old high school freshman, has a hobby. Slime. She thinks about it, studies it, watches videos, makes it, tries recipes…and even though she has made her share of slime fails, she keeps moving forward. She persists in her efforts to learn and engage her mind in the science of it all. She may drift off to other things, but she comes back to it, again and again. Even the fails bring her joy. She will sometimes worry that she “wasted” materials, but then land on what she learned from it. It isn’t about the final product, it is about the process of making. Another awesome part that I am truly grateful for…she loves to talk about it with anyone…including her mother. Insert my 12 year old son here and replace the hobby with gaming. Same things apply. I don’t understand it, so it is harder for me to relate, but it is still his hobby.
My husband, at times, over our last 21 years of marriage, might say, “I play guitar or banjo or base or mandolin or ukulele or I build amps.” In my home there are instruments, purchased and handmade, all over the walls. We literally decorate our home with quilts and instruments. He will learn a new instrument and then “get bored” (his words) and move on to another. He never leaves an instrument type completely though. For him, the music fills the void. The construction of the instrument or the amp, figuring out its personality, fills the void. It also fills my home with pleasant and sometimes not pleasant sounds. His hobby is music, and while he drifts around inside that space, there is a common purpose, theme, creative note…if you will. It pulls at him. We had to purchase a camper with a couch so he could sit and play. He has already built a box to haul instruments and store them while in the camper. It MUST be a part of his life. We all just know that around here.
Also, for him, it isn’t just about playing music and being heard. It is about growing deeper and more centered in the sound. When I tell you my husband is a talented musician, I am not overly simplifying it. He isn’t on a main stage somewhere, but he is incredibly talented. I can say that without the wifey rose colored glasses. But, when he started learning the banjo, all bets were off. He was proficient at the guitar, and on the banjo he had to go back to repeating hand motions from one note to another. He could have just said forget it and stuck with the guitar, but instead is practiced those two note hand movements, over and over and over and over…and as many times as you get annoyed reading over and over and over and over…I had to listen to him practice. He uses this penny method. He lays 10 pennies on the floor next to him. He plays a little “rif” (I think he calls it – but a section of a song) over and over. When he gets it correct, he moves one penny to the other side of the chair. He doesn’t move on to the next rif until he can move all 10 pennies without messing up!!!! Seriously! As a listener in the house, it can get annoying, but as a wife and hobbyist, it makes me proud and a bit jealous that he can have that discipline. But why does he have that discipline? He will tell you first hand he doesn’t have it in other areas. He has it in THIS area…because it is filling that void. Feeling closer and deeper to that creative thing that brings him joy is what matters.
What fills my void? Making. Sewing. Designing. Creating. Putting all those things together.
Designing and making in various forms is something I return to again and again. It must be a part of my life in some form or other…it just must. I find joy in the process, the learning and even the fails…although I often just throw them away or hide them. I know the process stretched me and empowered me. My personal level of discipline is more grounded…and that is a significant thing considering I am diagnosed with combined ADHD. Finally, I feel that sense of growing deeper and more centered in my person when I am sewing and creating.
So, when I say that my hobby completes me, I do actually mean it. To not have something in my life that accomplishes these things would leave me lost and floundering…and always searching…closer to the void than to my center. In that way, it serves as a spiritual discipline in my life, drawing me closer to that place of peace where the world disappears and I feel more connected to my Creator.