I just finished this making this retro jacket from the 1960s. Between work and other hobbies, it only took me three months to finish it. If you'd like to try making it yourself, the pattern is Simplicity 2154.


There are lots of things about the 1950s that are unenviable. But listening to John Updike describe family life during that era, you can’t help but wonder whether there were a few offsetting perks that made those times terribly happy. In a radio interview with National Public Radio host Terry Gross, Updike made it sound like a job in the 1950s was just something you did between social engagements and hobbies.

As a professional hobbiest (is that an oxymoron?) that seems enviable to me. Bouncing back and forth between my work and my hobbies, I’ve never had the time to master anything I do strictly for fun. But in the arc of my life, it doesn’t make my hobbies any less valuable.

Two reasons everyone needs a hobby

Hobbies bless you with friends. If you have lots of hobbies, you’ll have lots of really meaningful friendships. Where we would be without friends who share our agony over missing a putt for birdie, our passion for a great or terrible book, our triumph in finishing a difficult garment, our suffering over writer’s block, or our frustration over not being able to hold yoga’s balancing half moon? These shared experiences help us know the hearts and minds of others. How can you estimate what that’s worth?

Hobbies are meditation. Whether it’s a job that demands too much or too little, a betrayal by a friend or loved one, or a personal or professional failure, life can disappoint. When these things happen, you can lose yourself in a book. There you might meet someone who suffered and triumphed after a grander betrayal than yours. Maybe you can’t make someone love you, but you can calibrate your swing at 90 yards with a nine iron. Perhaps your employer restricts you to a tiny sphere of influence, but you can write a blog post that adds value to a larger community. Your arthritis may be excruciating, but the vast frontier of learning music may divert your mind for hours. While you are engrossed in your passions, you are in a form of divine union, unshackled by life’s problems and disappointments.

We’re living in times when success at work is the dominant yardstick for measuring one’s worth. Here’s wishing you the courage and determination to give work its due without sacrificing the bonds of friendship and the union of meditation.

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.