By Todd Lancaster
My college-aged daughter is not afraid to make sweeping generalizations.
She recently proclaimed that “Men don’t have hobbies, they have obsessions.”
Although I give her very little credit for anything, I realized that she may be on to something in this one area as I examine my own life.
She likes plants and gardens, knitting, music, running, reading and sports, but never seems to go overboard in any one area or seems too concerned with how her hobbies define her. For her, they are a way to pass time.
However, she may be right about how men let hobbies define them. My personal history of hobbies includes fly fishing, guitar playing, adult hockey, beer making, golf, flying, Scuba, Bar-B-Q, vinyl records and stereo equipment, and mandolin and ukulele playing, to name just a few, basically in the last few years. You might think that it is healthy to dabble in so many interesting dalliances. If so, you would be correct. I find myself incredibly interesting and if I had to describe myself, Renaissance man might slip its way into the conversation.
If you were to ask my loved ones, the term they might use is “obsessive-compulsive disorder” and that might come a little closer. I have one rule where hobbies are concerned. If you are going to do something, do it 1000% and never let family, work, time or money get in the way. I rarely do more than one hobby at a time and when I do, there is always an exit plan – AKA the next hobby coming.
How I choose a hobby is pretty random as well. I generally see someone doing something cool, and say to myself, “I am as cool as they are; why aren’t I doing that?” And the next thing I know, there 35 packages from Amazon on my porch.
When I played golf, I read every Golf Magazine and Golf Digest. I had over 40 putters in my garage and five sets of clubs, watched every video, bought every gimmick, worried about ball compression, blamed my game on an inability to play on bentgrass, bluegrass, Zoysia grass and Bermuda grass and ended up just smoking all of them instead.
There are 20 guitars that hang on my wall and each one of them serves a unique purpose — which is to hang on a different part of the wall in a very specific way. Let me just say there are more expensive hobbies than guitar collecting, like collecting Lear jets or collecting custom colored miniature giraffes — but it would be just wrong to hang a miniature giraffe on the wall.
As far as fly fishing goes, one might think that it requires just a stream, a rod, a reel and a fly — one would be wrong. It requires a stream, a rod, a reel and a fly, a waxed cotton hat — and an $80,000 Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
My son is a car guy and has cars, car parts and parts of his heart scattered around garages across the tri-county area. The amount of money, time and energy he has put into a 1992 Volvo, or his 1972 Datsun, or his 1993 Miata, or his 1997 Lincoln, or 2004 Tahoe or his next (fill in the blank). He once told me he needs a different car for every “slot.” I don’t know what he means by this, but he sounds convincing when he says it.
I have one request for him: Please just buy a car built after you were born.
I can only speak from personal experience, but I think it all comes done to how we let hobbies define us. As you get really interested in something, you begin to define yourself with the expectations you THINK others have for you, but truthfully, they care more about how you perceive them. Part of this comes from social media because always remember: EVERYONE IS IMPORTANT AND AN EXPERT ON THE INTERNET.
If you have ever been on a site where the excruciating minutia of anything is discussed, I think most of it has to do with how people like to be considered “experts” even though their expertise is really just in tapping keys.
So maybe my daughter is correct about things, but if I didn’t have all of those hobbies, what would I spend that money on — her inheritance? Probably. After all, her brother might need money for a water pump for his 1974 Vega.