I am not a person who is interested in a wide variety of things simultaneously. Instead, I tend to fixate on something for a while, then move on to something else. After a while, I’ll circle back to the first thing. I realized this when I started knitting. I would knit like mad for a while, then not think about it again for weeks. After gulping down a half dozen novels, cooking a rash of new dishes, reading bike blogs for a few weeks, and doing who knows what else, I would turn back to it. “Why did I ever quit knitting! I need to get back in the habit of doing this while I watch TV! No idle hands!” And then, predictably, I would finish a few things and put it down for a while. Now I know better than to pressure myself to pick back up one of these miscellaneous hobbies when I’m not in that mood. It will come back.
I’m generally okay with my random-hobby-moods. They tend to leave great things in their wake. Last time I got really in to cooking, I made four or five new things that were fantastic and that are on the regular weekly rotation now. When I got really into makeup (I’ll admit, that one shook me a little, as you can see in my last post) I bought the perfect tinted lip balm. I do try, these days, to be very careful what I buy while I’m in the heat of the moment. There’s a drawer full of nail polish in wacky colors upstairs that reminds me to be more prudent, and a huge bin of yarn that’s never the thing I really want.
What I like about hobbies is the way they inform each both each other and the more mundane parts of life. I love reading people like Kate Davies. She’s a knitter who uses her historical research into traditional Scotland, combined with her beautiful nature photography, to inspire her knitwear designs. There’s a lovely depth that results. My one-hobby-at-a-time brain doesn’t let me experience that kind of feeling in my own life very often.
Then, on Tuesday, I was driving a very long way, listening to a back episode of Cast On. I’m not even in a knitting phase right now, but I’m doing a lot of driving and commercial radio isn’t doing it for me. In the back of my mind I was worried. I’d been teaching Faulkner, and my students had almost driven me to despair on Monday. I needed to do something different on Wednesday, or I was going to lose them. And then Brenda Dayne, the voice of Cast On, mentioned being interested in the way that local, domestic architecture had resisted modernism. And I thought, “Faulkner! He’s using modernist tools to depict people who have been deeply betrayed by modernism’s abandonment of traditional folkways!” My Wednesday lecture was born, and my students ate it up.
It’s almost enough to make me wish I juggled my hobbies more smoothly, but that would take away the unexpected joy of these moments.