A Hobby Just for Fun

I’m thankful that my hobby is my job…but it makes me think I might benefit from a hobby hobby.

If you’re a jogger, it is no longer enough to cruise around the block; you’re training for the next marathon. If you’re a painter, you are no longer passing a pleasant afternoon, just you, your watercolors and your water lilies; you are trying to land a gallery show or at least garner a respectable social media following. When your identity is linked to your hobby — you’re a yogi, a surfer, a rock climber — you’d better be good at it, or else who are you?

In my 30s my hobby was flight simulators. I was part of a squad and I would spend hours every weekend flying a simulated FW-190.

When my computer blew up in 2009, I took it as a sign to grow up.

Lost here is the gentle pursuit of a modest competence, the doing of something just because you enjoy it, not because you are good at it. Hobbies, let me remind you, are supposed to be something different from work. But alien values like “the pursuit of excellence” have crept into and corrupted what was once the realm of leisure, leaving little room for the true amateur. The population of our country now seems divided between the semipro hobbyists (some as devoted as Olympic athletes) and those who retreat into the passive, screeny leisure that is the signature of our technological moment.

Wargaming (Advanced Squad Leader) was also another fun hobby that I frequently ignore because I don’t have any time.

I wonder what it’s like to have a pure hobby.

James R. Hull @jhull