Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of technological conveniences and all, but do you ever wonder about what we’ve lost in the process? I remember when I was a kid reading books from the library, and in those books were stories about kids from another generation. Those kids didn’t have a combination telephone / television / internet-connected computer on a device so small and portable that it could fit in their pocket, so what did they do all day? What did any of us do all day? If memory serves, those kids had hobbies. Good, old-fashioned, honest, American hobbies. Let’s take yet another stroll down memory lane, shall we?
Stamp & Coin Collecting
People still collect valuable items; in fact, one of my uncles collects antique watches. But when was the last time somebody offered to show you their stamp or coin collection? From what I remember, stamps or coins with mistakes on them were worth lots of money. You can get a fancy name if this is your hobby, too: Stamp collectors are called philatelists, and coin collectors are called numismatists. You can get started with either of these hobbies by visiting a hobby supply store (either brick-and-mortar or online), but it takes a little more work than it used to because people use cash less and mail letters less. However, you can find a lot of information on either hobby by searching “stamp collecting” or “coin collecting” on YouTube.
Listening to Radio Shows
Maybe this isn’t exactly a hobby, but all those years ago, people used to sit around and listen to the radio. Have you ever seen a movie or TV show set during the time of World War II? In the evening after dinner, the whole family would be sitting around in the living room staring into the middle-distance as they listen to a radio broadcast. It could be an action show, a comedy, the news, or even an address to the nation from the President of the United States! You’d have a difficult time if you tried to get together with your friends or family to listen to the radio in the evening nowadays (in lieu of watching a TV show or a movie), but it can be done. However, there are websites and apps that allow you to listen to the old-time shows (like Abbott & Costello, Jack Benny, Dick Tracy, Nero Wolfe, Flash Gordon, Have Gun Will Travel, and so on). Just look them up on your favorite search engine or app store if that appeals to you.
Do you know anybody who practices the nearly-forgotten art of whittling? Do you even know what it means? Whittling involves taking a knife and a block of wood and usually a front porch. You sit there and slowly, slowly, slowly carve a little sculpture out of that block of wood. Some people just took the knife and carved a smaller block of wood out of the bigger block of wood, but what you ended up with didn’t ever seem to be the point. It was simply a way to empty your mind – perhaps an old-timey form of mindfulness practice. You can learn the basics, as with just about any hobby, by searching for videos on YouTube.
Here’s an example of a haiku. It’s called “The Old Pond” by Matsuo Basho:
“An old silent pond / A frog jumps into the pond — / Splash! Silence again.”
Pretty much the only rules for writing a haiku are that the syllable count should be five on the first line, seven on the second line, and five on the third. You can find thousands of examples online, and many intellectual people have sworn by the practice for enhancing creativity and clearing the mind.
Or… Find Your Own Hobby to Revive
There are so many other hobbies of days gone by that you could revisit to spice up your life. The most fun way to discover these is through reading, although you can totally be forgiven for taking a shortcut and snooping around online. There was a book published in the late 1990s called: “Hobbies: Leisure and the Culture of Work in America.” It focuses on two main categories of hobbies: collecting and handicrafts. If you really want to take a deep dive, check it out!