Monday, September 27, 2010
Hobbies versus Work
The other day, my husband heard a radio announcer say, “Only people who don’t like their jobs have hobbies, or firemen and policemen who only work four days a week.”
Really? What’s your first reaction to that?
My husband builds and races cars as a hobby. He says it’s a stress-reliever, although his race engines require constant attention and occasionally the bodywork needs a full rebuild, which makes it appear stressful to me. He works four days a week, which is why the announcer’s statement grabbed his attention.
As a retiree (a group completely overlooked by the announcer), my mother-in-law collects dolls and belongs to a doll club where they invite guest speakers to share their expertise about items like 18th century French dolls. She enjoys playing with her “dollies,” dressing them in fancy clothes and arranging them in tableaus on her cabinets. It keeps her out of the casinos, which is her other pastime of late.
Another overlooked retiree, my dad, designs, builds and flies model airplanes. He spends hours creating, then sometimes crashes the whole effort on the first flight, curses a bit, and starts over again. Again, it looks stressful and expensive to me but he loves it.
I have always named reading as my hobby, but I have been known to sew, quilt, knit, needlepoint, embroider, stencil, paint, emboss velvet, bead, build dollhouses, and more. Of course, sometimes I write but once you show a profit, the all-knowing IRS doesn’t see writing as a hobby anymore even if I do. Now it’s a job.
This brings us back to the announcer’s statement. Do hobbies satisfy some need in people that their jobs don’t? Do hobbies fill empty hours and give people some sort of feeling of time well spent and/or achievement? Why do people have hobbies? And what constitutes a hobby?
My 1976 American Heritage dictionary defines a hobby as “an occupation, activity or interest, such as stamp-collecting or gardening, engaged in primarily for pleasure; a pastime.”
An activity engaged in for pleasure. A pastime. Oh dear, does that mean going to the casino qualifies as a hobby? With that definition, going to the mall or the movies could qualify, but I’ve always thought of a hobby as something more significant, more tangible, with a positive result like beautiful landscaping or a lovely handmade scarf or a carefully selected collection. Even sports like golf or tennis didn’t quite qualify as a hobby in my mind because supplies can’t be purchased at a hobby store, but this definition would include them—wouldn’t it?
In fact, this definition, minus the examples, is vague enough to include almost everything one enjoys doing. Is that the key? It’s work if it’s not pleasurable and it’s a hobby if it is? Therefore, if you enjoy your work, you don’t need a hobby because it satisfies on all levels?
What do you think? Wait—would reading blogs and responding to the questions asked qualify as a hobby if you enjoy it? Yikes!