I Have No Hobbies

I have long been irked by the word hobby. Such as when people say to me, Oh, you’re an artist? What a great hobby!

I cringe every time I hear this. What does a hobby imply? To me, a hobby is something that is fun, but if you don’t have time for it, that’s no big deal. It’s extra. You don’t get paid for it, and you do it primarily for relaxation, that it is secondary to your real work (what you do for money) and you are expected to drop it when it is no longer relaxing or fun (i.e., there’s more important work to do so it doesn’t fit into your schedule anymore). People look at you funny if you spend too much time on your hobbies, and parents with small children certainly don’t have time for them. By this definition, I have no hobbies. Yes, with a family and paid work and unpaid work, I certainly don’t have time for hobbies. About my art, and my garden, and several related activities that feed into the same vision, I feel that:

1. I’d like to get paid or compensated or earn a livelihood from these activities, I just haven’t figured out a way to do it yet, but that doesn’t mean I won’t or can’t

2. I believe they have social value and importance to other people, not just as stress relief or a break from my “real” work

3. I continue to pursue them even when they add extra stress to my life, because I think they are too important to let go of in the face of other responsibilities

4. If I were to drop some of my “hobbies”  when they became inconvenient, other living beings would die.

This, to me, sounds more like vocation than hobby. The other day I tried to think of a single thing that I do on a regular basis that would qualify as a “hobby”, and I could not think of any. Maybe collecting Breyer Model Horses….but I stopped the collecting part long ago, and now I just look at the (very cool) collection.

So, in an effort to make peace with the word “hobby”, I looked up the etymology of the word. Bless my soul, Hobby used to mean a kind of horse. A lightweight, small, versatile  workhorse. Or a child’s toy horse, as in “hobby horse”. OH! there you go! Yes I do have lots of hobbies! Probably about 30 of them lined up on a shelf, that I collected as a child!

Ah, there. I feel better about the word hobby now. How can I hate a word that started out as meaning a kind of horse?


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