There was one hobby that connected a neighborhood friend, my brother, and me in a close bond. All three of us loved to assemble model car kits. We didn’t just glue them together and place them on shelves, either. We were serious artisans.
My brother, our friend, and I used to compete to find out how realistic we could detail the 1/25th scale cars. Fine tipped brushes were used to apply silver paint to the areas that represented chrome trim on real cars. I learned to use liquid black shoe polish on grills to make them appear more “open” textured. I perfected the use of black thread to represent spark plug wires on the engines. $2 car kits could keep us occupied for a couple of weeks at a time.
After I bought my first real car, I quickly lost interest in the little models because an actual car requires more attention, and money. The neighbor pal and my brother, did keep up their model collecting well into their adulthood.
In 1983, I had a brief, strong urge to revisit the old boyhood hobby. The project was a 1/24th scale Porsche sports car. It was an advanced kit that I spent a month’s worth of spare time completing.
Most of the busy people, I’ve known, have at least a couple of hobbies to occupy their precious spare time. A few of my acquaintences have jobs and careers that evolved from hobbies. This is the type of situation that differentiates a hobby from an avocation.
When I got older, there was the need for a part time job to support my first car and to save money for college. I spent some of my hard-earned cash on audio equipment. The biggest investment was a reel-to-reel tape recorder. By using patch cords, my stereo receiver, microphones, and the tape recorder’s built-in mixing capabilities, I assembled a decent, utilitarian sound studio.
The primitive “studio” enabled me to produce “mix tapes” for friends that blended songs into one another by “cross fading” endings into beginnings. Sometimes I used a portable tape recorder to record my own sound effects snippets. They were categorized into various categories.
For instance, mechanical sounds included a lawn mower, idling truck engines, traffic passing by on the street, and a kitchen food mixer. Another category was nature sounds. There were croaking bullfrogs, crickets, dogs barking, cats meowing, and a mooing cow. Another tape was devoted to weather sounds like thunderstorms, rain on a metal canopy, and wind storms.
I blended these sounds into productions of music, voice, and tape delay echo. Some of the efforts were flops, but others brought praise from friends and family. The beauty of this avocation is that it fueled my interest in radio broadcasting.
I eventually entered college and majored in communication arts. My natural aptitude was honed and refined in the scholastic setting. The best aspect was that the college’s studio equipment was linked to a broadcast transmitter. My avocation finally had evolved to a viable craft and profitable vocation.
Even during my radio career, I still enjoyed producing individual mix tapes. Their scope was scaled back and the medium was cassette tape. Many mixes were “audio letter tapes” that I mailed to close friends. The advent of the Internet soon killed off that hobby.
The Internet did not wipe out other interests, though. I’ve always experimented with activities to occupy mind and body in some way. These activities must calm me or excite me. At the same time they entertain me, they must provide challenges. They need to teach me about nature, things, culture, and people.
This is why I’m an advocate for hobbies. A good hobby will not only make your downtime much more enjoyable, it will sharpen your mind, and make your life richer. A good hobby or three will give you something rewarding to do when you retire from the workforce.
A rewarding hobby is more than a distraction like teevee. A hobby or avocation entirely absorbs the mind. Once you engage in your activity, there is no room for threats of the future, and stress of daily living. Your favorite hobby is an interface between you and satisfaction. It is an important ingredient in a life that is well lived.
So, what are my present hobbies and avocations? You’re reading one of them, right now. Oftentimes, you may read about the others in this blog. I read other people’s blogs to help satisfy my curiosity about them.
I hope you enjoy a happy International Hobby Month.