Archived Story

The problem with hobbies

Published 9:39pm Tuesday, August 19, 2014

By Noel Lewis

Amidst the fog of working, parenting, spousing, eating, sleeping and so on, most people find great fulfillment in a hobby or hobbies that serve as escapes, or for lack of a better phrase, time fillers. This is to be celebrated and encouraged, because these hobbies, as some call them, tend to be the activities that are defining characteristics of our fabric when we aren’t busy with responsibilities and duties.

For the average person, there may be one or several things that they enjoy doing. I know there aren’t many hunters, fisherman or dog runners around, so what else do people do? Some find enjoyment in gardening, be it vegetables or flowers. Some find ultimate escape in manicuring their already perfect lawn. Some believe that the ultimate in personal experience is taking that engine apart one more time. Is that wax job just so?

Yes, it’s true, most people have several things they enjoy doing, but I believe it equally true to say that out of a list of hobbies, given a choice of only one thing, most would be able to easily name one thing, just one thing that they would say is the be all and end all. It’s the one thing that if they had to, they would be able to enjoy the rest of their lives if they only could do that one thing in their leisure time.

There is a problem, however, when you couple an activity that is supposed to be leisurely with the activity of making money. I love wood-working in my spare time. When I’m not doing it, I think about doing it. To make the time I do get to indulge in it, I plan every cut, every sanding job, glue up and fit up. Working with reclaimed wood as my preferred medium, it takes a bit of planning to get the most bang for your buck. When you only get twenty minutes here, an hour there, you begin to think about things in terms of productivity and try to reduce time wasted.

Then too, I have gotten into a habit of making furniture to sell to certain folks. Then a hobby that reduces stress, lets my mind wander, allows me to relax, and increases sanity becomes something a bit more… tedious. Throw two vices into the same thing, money and time, and you’ve got a real business on your hands, not something that will help you solve your modern day woes. Take this table I’m working on now. It looks all right from a certain vantage point, but at times I ask myself, what in blazes would a consumer want in a table looking like that?

I’ve got to get myself a new hobby.

Anybody want to buy a table?

Noel Lewis grew up in Carrsville and now resides in Zuni with his wife Leah and two boys, Milo and Stuart. Noel works at Newport News Shipyard and builds furniture out of reclaimed wood in his spare time.


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