The Push and Pull of Hobbies
I was a late academic bloomer but always had a steady stream of things I was eager to learn. I wasn't tested for attention deficit or giftedness, but I fall easily into a hybrid category of an active seeker. I seek and absorb information until my brain is full. I seek beauty and optimism. I seek opportunities to grow and learn. Sometimes I fall out of balance as I grasp for perfection and mastery of knowledge or skill. That's when I know I must seek quiet.
I played the guitar on and off since I was 9 years old, but I didn't get appreciably better until I invested myself in taking lessons as an adult. For a solid year I gave my attention to a teacher and my lessons, and practiced at home on my own. Satisfied with much improvement after years of stagnancy, I remained aware that I had to sacrifice other things to play the instrument and even more to play well. After a while I needed to get my priorities straight that my family and my work could be better served by reaffirming my dharma.
And so goes the push and pull of hobbies, refining my distinction between fulfillment of joy and fulfillment of dharma.
Although I enjoy other hobbies like painting, drawing, and dance, I am just not meant to be a professional musician or dancer. What starts as a joy of playing and be challenged grows into an internal push to practice and improve, occasionally with surprise and elation that I mastered something new. But I am consistently pulled back to center by my meditation practice which reminds me that it doesn't really matter. My hobbies should be joyful, but they are not my dharma.
My path of deep fulfillment is in communication and advocacy for health and healing, and it has been for quite a long time. Any time I feel frustrated by my lack of time for hobbies, I remember to sit still and be quiet which revitalizes the joy I have for living and breathing. I am reminded that I am not playing guitar to be a musician-- I am playing for fun, and fun is how I should keep it if I can maintain that perspective. I try to stay awake to the difference between the hobbies I entertain, and what I need to do to fulfill my purpose.
I can sense when I am tilting out of balance. To keep my priorities straight, I sometimes have to put beloved hobbies out of sight. Recently, I had to put a whole box full of new art supplies in the garage, but I know that they will be there for me when the seasons change.
Yoga was once a way for me to heal deep emotional wounds and to heal my body, but now my Yoga practice reconciles the pushing and pulling within myself. I need both the push and the pull to find my center.