Not Hobbits, HOBBIES.
wherein I explore a mythical activity that no longer exists in America
When I was in Lithuania at a local high school, presenting as a “visiting author,” the question most frequently asked of me was “What are your hobbies.”
This question shocked me because I realized that everything I had loved as a dedicated amateur, I either dropped or turned into a profession as an adult. I have been a professional singer, a professional actress, and then/now I am an award-winning, professional writer. The hobby I most listed as a child, “reading” has become an integral part of my career. I write as much for money as I do for joy or art — and increasingly have to force myself to reset and write something creatively instead of spending time “crafting my pitch.”
I would much rather lie in a hammock and read a book by a foreign author than write an article about writing. It would probably be better for my creativity and my soul, too. Yet here I am, writing an article. Why?
When I was a kid I did craft kits, hooked rugs, painted, wrote songs, performed plays with friends, read books, played the piano, rearranged my room, grew plants, sang, made clothes, took walks, listened to music, watched TV, talked on the phone, climbed trees, and cooked — all rather indiscriminately. It was only after graduating from college that all of these things vanished from my life to be replaced by seeking jobs, getting jobs, and trying desperately to figure out how to turn the various activities I loved into paying jobs. (For the record, I mostly succeeded.)
I do not think Americans have hobbies anymore. Now this might be because our jobs fail us in one of many ways:
- they invade our personal time and don’t end, so we can never relax
- they do not pay nearly enough, so we must freelance to make up the needed cash
- they are so draining emotionally that all we can do afterward is hope to be distracted by screens, drugs, or drink
(feel free to add your own reasons for no longer having a hobby in the comments — or…