The Midult’s guide to...

We read books but we are not mem­bers of a book club, be­cause that’s just school, isn’t it?

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Hob­bies

‘What are your hob­bies?’ Per­fectly rea­son­able ques­tion, you might think. or, let’s soft en it a bit :‘ What do you like to do in your spare time?’ Now…

an­swer. Go on, an­swer. Maybe you’re in a job in­ter­view. Maybe you’ re on a date. Maybe you’re hav­ing a re­ally dire, brass-tacks din­ner-party con­ver­sa­tion that you need to be over. Like, now. Be­cause other wise you’re go­ing togo rogue. you’ re just that bored and re­sent­ful.

once upon a 20th cen­tury, there was that sec­tion at the bot­tom of a CV where peo­ple would put things like, ‘I en­joy go­ing to t he cin­ema,’ or ‘lis­ten­ing to jazz ’, or‘ travel ’. Call us cyn­i­cal, but aren’t those things re­ally just Net­flix, the ra­dio in the car and the odd hol­i­day? aren’t they just life? Do we need to cu­rate our hob­bies like we do our In­sta­gram feeds to give the world an ide­alised view of how we ‘use’ our time? Do we need to show that we are ‘what did I achieve today? ’ peo­ple who cease­lessly gather our rose­buds and carpe that diem? are hob­bies about plea­sure or about prov­ing some­thing? If t hey a re about plea­sure, t hen what about baths? Many, many baths? and ly­ing in a dark­ened room? Do th­ese count?

No one ac­tu­ally asks, ‘What are your hob­bies?’ in real life. But even, ‘What do you en­joy ?’ sets off alarm bells be­cause it’s the kind of( des­per­ate) con­ver­sa­tion that in spires value judge­ments and cat­e­gori­sa­tion. See? We’ve just judged you for even ask­ing us. But that’s just be­cause we’re scared. We get mean when we’re scared.

We un­der­stand that we may be the odd ones out here. We do not have hob­bies. We do not ski or moun­tain climb or sky dive. We don’t do pot­tery or em­broi­dery or paint­ing. We rarely go to gal­leries, are not at­tempt­ing to learn a for­eign lan­guage, and are sus­pi­cious of the the­atre with all its mid­dle-class, self-sat­is­fied fire risk. We cook to feed peo­ple rather than to self-im­prove. We ex­er­cise to feel bet­ter rather than to see the world while hik­ing.

We read books but we are not mem­bers of a book club, be­cause that’s just school, isn’t it? We don’t play an in­stru­ment and we’d rather not even talk about DIY. oc­ca­sion­ally we ride bikes, but by no stretch of the imag­i­na­tion are we ‘into cy­cling’. Sim­i­larly, we walk to places now and again with­out class­ing our­selves as ‘keen’ walk­ers. Med­i­ta­tion? We feel so vi­o­lently against it that we should prob­a­bly do it. But we don’t. and the like­li­hood is that we won’t. un­til we need a spir­i­tual re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, and then we will. But we won’t talk about it. Be­cause we’ll be in the mid­dle of a ner­vous break­down.

We like our friends. We like to chat. and to think–when we have the en­ergy, when our brains are not boil­ing over. We like telly–but that doesn’t count, does it? Shame. this lack of hob­bies make us feel as though we’re let­ting our­selves down some­how. But, in an ideal world, life is the hobby, isn’t it? With all the colour soft he rain­bow? With­out knit­ting. or moun­tain climb­ing. Is that al­lowed? themidult.com

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