~Stephen R. Covey
I'm always amazed when I talk to people with hobbies. Whether it is golfing, making crafts, reading (for pleasure), or just about any other thing people do for no purpose other than the feeling they get from doing, I am always envious of hobbyists. It isn't that I necessarily want to do what they do; the fact is that many people's hobbies would bore the daylights out of me. No, the thing that paints me green is simply that they have a hobby. I've never really had what I would call a hobby. I've flirted with hobbies before, and there are a list of things that I would love to spend time doing, but I have to admit that I have always failed to establish something that I regularly do for enjoyment. Don't get me wrong, I do things for enjoyment, but not many of them are productive. I think hobbies should be productive. The problem I have is that by the time I'm done with all of the productive things I have to do on any given day, I don't have much left in the tank for something unnecessarily productive. Then, while doing something enjoyable but wholly unproductive- watching television- I had an epiphany.
I was watching a show called The Middle. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this program, it is a sitcom that centers on a family of five in rural Indiana. The parents both work, and the kids are a strangely familiar mix of people you may actually know. They live in a house that has clearly been decorated bit by bit over a couple of decades of not being able to afford an interior designer, and their dishwasher requires duct tape in order to work. In a sentence, it is a show about my family and quite a few families I know. It is refreshing to see a sitcom that I can relate to. Don't get me wrong, I also enjoy shows about Naval Criminal Investigation Service agents and lovable physicists with a passion for all things nerdy, but I don't really connect with those characters. This connection to the characters in The Middle is the source of my epiphany. The mother, Frankie, comes to the realization in last week's episode that they spend so much time doing the unpleasant things they don't really want to do that they don't have time to the things they really do want to do. She references missing fun holiday events to do laundry and passing on birthdays and anniversaries in order to fulfill other menial household tasks. She realized her "To Do" list was out of whack. Her realization became my realization. My priorities are usually listed like this:
-Things I have to do.
-Things I really should do
-Dream about the things I'd really like to do
The fact is that I have a hobby. There are a couple of things that I really enjoy doing. In fact, I enjoy doing these two things so much, that I actually majored in it in college. I love to read books, and I love to write. The problem is that I put all of the things that are supposedly more important ahead of doing either of them as a hobby. Do I read? Sure. I read all of the time, but very little of it is based on enjoyment. I read emails, instructions, and homework assignments. Do I write? Absolutely. I write assignment instructions, emails, hall passes, and feedback on IEPprogress reports. I've spent the last couple of years lamenting the fact that I don't have time to read the books I'd like to read or write the things I'd like to write. I find pockets of time here and there, spread out over months of time for these activities, but I'd hardly call that a rewarding hobby. That is until that episode of The Middle when I realized that much like the characters on the screen, I've had my priorities out of whack. I need to start putting my hobbies higher on the list. It depresses me to look at my two blogs (this post appears on both) and realize that children born on the dates of my last posts are old enough to walk. I am resolving with this post to change that. I am resolving to put my hobbies closer to the top of the list. I am resolving to blog once a week (I require my Creative Writing students to do it, why shouldn't I allow myself to do it?) and read a novel a month (A pathetic goal for someone who used to read a novel in a day, but it takes baby steps).
Just to prove that this isn't an empty goal, I am writing this post with a stack of work sitting next to me. I have student work to grade, lesson plans to create, hundreds of pages of assigned reading and assignments from my grad classes, and laundry to fold, but I am taking the time to do something I want to do before I even touch the things I need to do, and I feel better about the day already.