Let me confess up front: I'm a Scots Presbyterian workaholic. I'm not quite Gekko ("Lunch is for wimps" was the immortal line of Michael Douglas' character in the 1980s film, Wall Street). Yet Thoreau's thought is always in the back of my mind, "As if you could kill time without injuring eternity."
These days, I'm beginning to wonder if I've missed out on a lifetime of pleasure by not having a hobby - a passion that has nothing to do with work.
My brother, Jeff, has become my guru on this point. He's collected stamps since he was a kid. "I started collecting stamps when we lived in Germany [our dad was stationed in Lahr]. I'm not sure what got me started, but I suspect it was dad bringing stamps home. Elizabeth [our sister] and I shared the big bedroom with the sink in it, and we used to soak them off the paper. There were always stamps drying on the side of the sink, sometimes curling up into little tubes."
Jeff has cycled in and out of collecting over the years. "I have learned that my pattern of collecting is not at all uncommon. Many people start when they are young and stop until they're old. Through my teens, 20s, and 30s, I would occasionally rekindle my interest, but it usually waned."
What does he really like about stamps? "Their images. They are a tiny piece of art I can hold in my hand - using tweezers of course! - and tuck neatly away in a book. I also like thinking about the world when the stamp was issued - we went through wars and depressions and kings and queens and all the while people made their way through their lives."
Recently, Jeff took up his hobby yet again. "There's also huge satisfaction with collecting. When I go to a show, it's all about the thrill of the chase, 'Got 'em, got 'em, need 'em!' When I find a stamp I don't have, it's great, knowing that another hole in this collection I've had for more than forty years has been filled."
This holiday season, I'm going to give myself permission to explore a few hobbies and see what sticks. I figure it's never too late.
What are your hobbies? How did you get started? Were your mum and dad or siblings into pastimes? Might hobbies become more important to us as we get older? In fact, might hobbies - that is, powering down from our driven lives - be just what our world needs? Please share your thoughts by commenting below. As always, I invite you to email me directly at JULIA (that familiar symbol) wearethenewradicals (punctuation) com.
Julia Moulden is trying a few hobbies on for size. Like maybe knitting... In between, she's on tour, talking about the New Radicals.