Tim Wu's recent New York Times article, "In Praise of Mediocrity," kinda' hit home for me. In it, he praises the practice of having a hobby, of doing something for the joy of it. I can appreciate that.
I may have a list of things on my profiles that describe the different things I do "Teacher, Musician, Photographer, etc...," but am I really good at any of them? Not really. And do I make money from any of them but being a teacher? Nope. Do I do any of them to the degree that people seek em out to hire me to do them? Nope.
[T]here’s a deeper reason, I’ve come to think, that so many people don’t have hobbies: We’re afraid of being bad at them. Or rather, we are intimidated by the expectation — itself a hallmark of our intensely public, performative age — that we must actually be skilled at what we do in our free time. Our “hobbies,” if that’s even the word for them anymore, have become too serious, too demanding, too much an occasion to become anxious about whether you are really the person you claim to be.
I've experienced this before. Many people seem to expect me to be a super-professional of sorts with my music and photography. They ask when I'm going to put together a gallery show, finish my album, or start a band.
And, to a point, that makes sense. I should get a band going and I'm sure I'd find joy in it; I should learn how to do all the darkroom stuff in order to justify all my darkroom equipment; I've written a bunch of songs, so I should release them to the public. And I feel that sort of pressure... to publicize my skills in a way that I can gain acknowledgement and deserve the titles I put on my business card, or in the right column of this website, or on all of my social media profiles.
However, I don't seem to have that drive. I've tried making the music more professional before, but I keep putting it off and I'm kinda' ok with it. The older I get, the less I feel like I need to share my emotions with people; my drive to share my music in a professional context has faded with that. I've been enjoying making photographs as of late, but I'm not out there hiring models in order to show off my skills. I'm quite happy to keep my photos "in-house." The article mentions running. I like running, enough that I push myself to run kinda' far now and then, but I'm not "in training." Lately I've been going down to the weight room and trying to stay fit, but I'm not really bodybuilding.
In all these things, I'm a hobbyist. I don't do any of them with a passion that creates cash for myself, and cash is the only real currency of capitalism. I don't have much desire to mix Capitalism with my hobbies. So I keep them with myself.
It makes me wonder how I'd even jump on anything if I had the chance. How would I jump on a bona fide music career? Or photography gig? I have no idea. And with the need to pay for child support, lawyers, and all that separation-related stuff, I can't really abandon my job these days.
So I'll keep up with my hobbying and maybe I can bring in a few bucks as some hobbyist side hustle.
And I'll take more pride in keeping "Musician" and "Photographer" in my profiles, even if they are just a hobby, and even if Capital doesn't recognize my accomplishments.
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