Hobbies. Simply saying the word out loud brings both joy and frustration. Joy in the fact there is a welcomed diversion to occupy free time. Frustration from the fact there is not enough free time to actually practice and enjoy welcomed diversions.
I was thinking the other day about our hobby. It occurred to me I have been an audiophile for a really long time. I suddenly wondered why. What is it about this particular hobby that has kept me engaged for more years that I care to admit? Aren't there other hobbies? Surprisingly, at least for me, a few do come to mind.
Cars. I've always loved them. Been fascinated for decades by the enticing wonderful features, styling and most of all performance. Over New Year's holiday, I bought a cool Italian sports car that's really fast, has hand stitched leather, beautiful interior, lots of advanced features, and oh, did I mention it's really fast?
Rumor has it my friends have started a pool on how long it will take me to get a speeding ticket. This purchase was a revolt against the type of car I have always purchased - a nice, safe, four door sedan, good ride, blah, blah, blah. Boring. I wanted some fun for a change. And boy am I having the time of my life. I could almost see myself selling my audio system, buying a really wicked car and having a great time.
Enjoying an automobile is decidedly more difficult than a stereo. Never mind the fact I cannot realistically drive the 178 MPH at which it is rated. At how many stop lights can I select sport mode, manual shift, use the paddle shifters and really push the 0-60-time without running into another car or stopping for the next light? Conversely, early on most weekend mornings, when traffic is pretty light, I've had an absolute blast on two lane country roads. Several interstates as well. So far, best of all, no tickets! No one has yet won the speeding pool.
Beyond that, well, not so much. Oh, there are some things I'd like to do. I'd like to have a better knowledge of wines - this despite I drink very little these days. I have a wine fridge with about thirty bottles, but they were all recommendations of a friend who is into wine on a large scale. He has two wine cellars in his home and is frequently buying, selling, collecting, and he routinely makes suggestions as to what I should buy. I've even bought wine from him. So maybe I could brush up on my wine skills.
I've always liked photography and have a couple of cameras, beyond, that is, the camera on an iPhone. I have yet to become involved enough to actually learn how to take completley manual pictures, setting f-stops, shutter speeds, multiple lenses and all that. Fully automatic seems to be the default setting anytime I have my better than phone camera in my hand. Then again, I'm not taking pictures for artistic pursuits, or because I see some interesting composition. I'm simply capturing a memory. To me, that's anything but a hobby.
Maybe collectibles. What about doing that in some way? Think that might be fun? Perhaps. What would I collect? I mean, what outside of music which I am already doing? Art? Well, maybe. World War II memorabilia? I've always been keenly interested in that era. That's certainly possible. But do I have enough time to do so? Do I even have room to store all the things I collect?
How about watches? I'm, doing that to some degree already. Trying to decide what I might collect has thus far not been met with an enthusiastic answer. I effectively remain in collectibles limbo.
Cost is also a mitigating factor. How much money should I devote to a newfound hobby? In my view, any endowment of a new hobby is a reduction of disposable income, not to mention future audio expenditures. And right now, I am not willing to sacrifice the audiophile hobby. Some things remain sacrosanct. However, I have asked myself the question is audiophilia standing in the way of other methods for me to occupy my free time? If I spent less on music, gear and whatever audio related purchases I find interesting, could I therefore more easily fund a new hobby?
Another issue is the fact I'm still not tired of listening to music. I can go into my audio room, close the door, and listen to song after song for hours. Time can easily slip away from me during an average listening session. Obviously, if I get that much satisfaction out of what is clearly my most practiced diversion, my one endearing way to spend my free time, why even bother looking for something to replace a pursuit I obviously enjoy?
Regardless of what or how we fill our time when we are all to ourselves, hobbies are always a welcomed distraction. No matter what they are, how many or how few, adding some measure of balance to our busy lives is a smart practice. I suspect the audiophile hobby will be my one enduring legacy, my homage to my own particular way to occupy myself. No matter what or how many hobbies come along, or when they may do so, I suspect none will ever rise to the level of me in my audio room listening to favorite tunes. Maybe audio is all I need to be happy. Maybe it is keeping me from true fulfillment. Right now, deciding which is not even up for discussion. Because as it stands, audio wins, hands down. Well, that and a sunny day in sport mode.