Whether it’s trying surfing or playing the guitar when’s the last time you did something out of pure joy?
In this Instagram-edited era where everyone gets their own stage, people only like to do things they’re good at. The thought goes: ‘if I can’t share it and show my best self, why do it?’
The aim for perfection limits the urge to enjoy hobbies for hobbies sake. As the author Tim Wu notes:
“But there’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.”
The comedian never knows how their material will reciprocate until they get on stage and try their material. The jazz musician tweaks their tempo to test audience reaction. The writer publishes a first chapter of the book for feedback. In terms of professional life, showing your work is critical. But as a hobbyist, you don’t need reassurance. Again, writes Wu:
“Lost here is the gentle pursuit of a modest competence, the doing of something just because you enjoy it, not because you are good at it.”
Playing is natural, reception is artificial. It is hobbies that feed the soul with pure goodness. Showcasing the hobby is not necessary, but if so, neither is acing it.
Hobbies shouldn’t feel like work. They are a process to enjoy.
“The physical universe is basically playful. There is no necessity for it whatsoever. It isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t have a destination that it ought to arrive at. But it is best understood by its analogy to music. Because music as an art form is essentially playful. We say you play the piano, you don’t work the piano.”Alan Watts