At work this morning as I was eating dry Life cereal out of a plastic cup and browsing YouTube videos of baby bears, I realized that 1) I do not actually enjoy Life cereal and 2) I should find a more earth shattering job.
This is not, by any means, a new or terribly exciting epiphany. It seems I cannot go a day without complaining about my mediocre office job, post college boredom, and lack of adventures. The jury is still out on whether or not the problem is credible or simply generational. Perhaps it’s unreasonable to expect great things, I’m still not sure.
Yesterday evening, one of my dearest friends wrote to me in response to my last post and reminded me that the American dream is not so much about the house and the kids and the dog and the swimming pool as it is about wanting to love and be loved in return. Apparently it’s easier for people to say they want these “things” instead of becoming vulnerable and admitting they just want to be worth something to others. Of course she’s right. She is, after all, smarter and more rational than I’ll ever be.
But still, even after I have someone to love and love me in return, how can I not have a back up plan? Platonic, romantic, and erotic relationships are all, without a doubt, moments away from disaster. It’s the fickle nature of humankind. Betrayal is too easy. So I figure, why not invest in something and not just someone.
This is not new concept; plenty of people bury themselves in their careers to escape reality. Unfortunately I do not have this luxury, as my career is not substantial enough to cover me. I’m left exposed and vacant, susceptible to dependence on my human contacts. Even my parents are a risk. I decide I need a hobby.
The word hobby makes me think of foul baby mice, miniature paper boats inside of glass bottles, and pogs. Whenever I’m asked to list my hobbies, I’m tempted to lie. I spend most of my free time painting portraits of famous musicians, enjoy evenings white water rafting, and I have an extensive collection of Japanese butterfly wings! In reality, I can’t name one. Sure, I enjoy taking the occasional picture, but everyone’s a photographer. Music is just as frustrating. I can sing and play until I’m blue in the face, but I’ll never be Sarah Mclachlan. I need something I can really succeed at, invest in. Something unique.
I google “cool hobbies” and it tells me to ask yahoo. How anti-climactic. So I try again with “list of hobbies” and end up on Wikipedia. Here is a whole list of ways to fill up my spare time. From beekeeping to backgammon to Franco-Prussian War reenactment. I’m overwhelmed.
I click on Herpetoculture and am disappointed when it turns out to be nothing more than caging up reptiles for no reason other than to stare at them. I was never good with snakes, so I move onto Treasure Hunting. Now this sounds exciting. I’ve always been a fan of pirates, and who doesn’t want to discover a chest full of loot. I picture myself in black tights with giant hoop earrings and various weaponry fastened to my belt. Not only do I look awesome, but I’ve just paid off my college debt! Unfortunately treasure hunting is illegal in most developed countries, so I’m out of luck.
Urban exploration is next and proves to be quite alluring. Within minutes, I’m convinced I will be the next urban explorer, “one who examines the normally unseen or off-limits parts of human civilization.” They are also known as creepers, which cracks me up. Apparently there are hundreds of books, magazines, and documentaries on these adventurers, and I wonder why I’ve never heard of them before now. All of a sudden I’m back in black, but with fewer weapons. Instead of a knife I’ll need a respirator. Some explorers wear respirators to protect their airways. Apparently explorers face many risks in abandoned structures including collapsing roofs and floors, broken glass, scary guard dogs, harmful chemicals, and hostile squatters. This is sounding less fun by the minute. My idea of a good time does not usually involve argumentative hobos.
Moving on, I discover that most of the hobbies listed either requires too much money, involve more life threatening danger than I’m currently willing to risk, or are entirely dull. I feel defeated. No wonder Americans are either workaholics or obese (or both). Work and food are much more convenient escape outlets than letterboxing, snorkeling, or wrestling squatters.
I can’t help but think of my countless acquaintances on facebook who have quotes like “You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” plastered across their page. Why do I always roll my eyes at such lines? Beyond it being offensively cliché, maybe they are right. Maybe I should start taking a risk once in a while. Invest in something, rely less on someones, replace the mundane with marvelous. Then again, what wonderful things are they doing with their lives?
At 12:35am, I officially decide not to cut off contact with humankind, quit my job, or become a creeper. Instead I vow to take better pictures, show up to choir practice, and complain less about my mediocre office job. I also decide to stop being a hermit. Mondays are the perfect days for such promises, and if I’m lucky I’ll still be half devoted to one by Friday. Maybe I’ll even pick up a hobby, I hear spring is the perfect time for turtles.