I went for an interview to volunteer for a specific organization that likes to screen its volunteers to make sure the “applicant” can handle the commitment. Everything went surprisingly well. I felt it was a breeze with the usual questions regarding previous associations and affiliations, work experience, available hours, family, strengths and weakness, etc. Then the interviewer asked, “What are your hobbies?” I was stumped. I could say the typical reading, exercise (or some form of it), and fine dining. They are after all acceptable things everyone (well most everyone) likes, or at least no-one really would admit to not liking. But were those really legitimate hobbies?
Maybe some people are able to recite a list of things they love to do, and it should be quite simple, but I started to rack my brain for some intelligent pastime to share with the person. Don’t get me wrong; I’m passionate about many things that make my life thrilling, but to nail one or two things and claim them as hobbies at this particular stage in my life seemed rather uncalled for.
As a child, it was easy. I could reel off gymnastics, ballet, singing, running and riding a bike. If I let my imagination run wild, I could be letting my hobbies dictate what I imagined I’d like to be in the future…the flying trapeze in a traveling circus, or the cowgirl riding on horseback yodeling her way into undiscovered sunsets. I imagined I could be the baton twirling leader of a marching band, or shoot arrows like Robin Hood and his band of thieves running through forests. As a child, what I identified as hobbies were legitimate pastimes. They were joyous activities I simply did between waking up, school work, homework and going to bed.
As I grew up, I realized hobbies became activities I could only claim if I was good at them. I couldn’t ride horses. Nor could I play in an orchestra or sing at the top of my lungs like the soloist in the church choir. Gradually, I fine-tuned my list of hobbies. I became interested in geography to prepare myself for all the traveling I would do were I to become an airline hostess; I hiked trails and climbed mountains to reflect my sense of adventure and risk; I volunteered at a hospital to prepare for a career in nursing to quell my instinctive desire to serve others; and I entertained others with public readings and reciting of poetry which was directly inspired by my avid love of literature. In between, I collected matchboxes, developed an interest in coins, dabbled in drawing and painting, and loved cinema. Sadly, there was no more ballet because I was not ‘gracefully lightweight’ as desired. I could however, still do cartwheels and forward rolls and splits so I didn’t completely rule out acrobatics. Until suddenly, one day in later years of my teens, I was tempted to do a quick cartwheel when my arms and shoulders felt like they’d break underneath me. So by the time my late teens hit, I had also eliminated acrobatics and redefined my hobbies to a love of languages, reading, and performing arts. Add to that a creative mastery of sewing by my early twenties, purely motivated by a necessity to wear fashionable and affordable clothing.
My thirties marked a shift. I was more settled into myself with a career and family. There seemed to be less time for leisurely hobbies during the day and weekends, so I indulged in the occasional stage acting at night. Entertaining with friends, “playing” the hostess and the art of creative cooking dominated the scene in the work-life balance. And although I passionately took on gardening and creating a beautifully landscaped yard as claim to a new found hobby, ultimately, what set my heart on fire was reading with character and animation to the children, sewing costumes for their class plays, hiking with the Boy Scouts, translating foreign language passages into English, mentoring and volunteering my services.
It dawned on me that as we progress through life stages, we basically do not change who we are. What differs is how we express ourselves in our activities at various stages of our lives. If you love your work to the level of being passionate about it, pursuits stemming from that passion motivate you to create a lifestyle that reflects the joyous activities you simply do between waking up and going to bed.
My hobbies? “Life, and writing about it,” I said, with passion.

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7 Responses to Hobbies

  1. yeran says:

    “Life (and how many hobbies does that include?) and writing about it” that you so generously share with everybody are great hobbies enjoyed by you and your friends. Loved it!


  2. colette says:

    Great piece Silva. Funny, growing up in my corner of the world, I didn’t even know people could have hobbies. Obviously I had none and I didn’t even know of anybody who had any… Such a foreign concept in those days.

    I must say though, having known you as an adult and reading your essay now, one can see the Silva of today (the refined complete person as I know you) as an extension of who you were then. I can see the continuation of a lot of those childhood hobbies/ trades in you today. You don’t lose them I guess, you just unconsciously embrace the more meaningful ones, refine and perfect them and incorporate them in your everyday life as an adult.

    Well, I’m glad you have chosen writing as your main voice of expression as you are “Top notch” at it (not that you would not excel at the others, :] ). Your essays are very insightful, witty, sentimental and a PLEASURE to read. Please keep it up!!!


  3. Colette, you leave me speechless (hard to believe I can be without word).And what of you and your hobby? When will I see the sun rise in your painting?


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