Races like the Ragnar are often conceived of as “stuff (bourgeois) white people like”: paying for the privilege to exhaust yourself. And I don’t disagree. But I think the motivating factor is perhaps more the “bourgeois” more than the whiteness, and probably has even more to do with a certain type of work/lifestyle. People within this realm work so much — and, depending on age, have so many obligations towards their families — that they have to formalize and extremetize leisure in order to rationalize seeking it. It has to involve consumption in some way (buy this running Camelbak!), and planning / long-term commitment (you sign up months before), societal buy-in (knowledge that this is a cool thing that you are doing), and secondary optimization (exercise). Then you can give yourself permission to spend 48 hours doing something exclusively for yourself and your suffering-and-survival as enjoyment.
It didn’t feel like a choice, it just felt like a natural gravity.
To me, that’s what I think a real hobby feels like. Not something you feel like you’re choosing, or scheduling — not a hassle, or something you resent or feel bad about when you don’t do it.
The truth is, it’s really really hard to start a hobby as an adult — it feels unnatural, or forced, or performative…It’s also hard when the messages about what you should be doing with your leisure time are so incredibly contradictory.
But I grew up in a place, and a time, where hobbies — activities that had no place on your resume, no function in getting you into a better school — were still commonplace. Amongst the bourgeois American middle class, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Old Millennials were the last to experience this attitude towards activities and leisure…It’s weird to think of yourself as privileged to know what you like.
I can feel this. I have dabbled in hobbies over the years and have a hard time divorcing myself from a productivity mindset. Even if I enjoy an activity it’s hard to make myself do it.
This year I’ve played some with block printing. It’s easier to get myself to do something for other people (don’t want to get into *that* here though) and making art for other people gives me an excuse to actually make art. I’m all about tricking my brain if needed. I tried on puzzles for size but they seem to be something I only enjoy a few times a year.
Growing up, my parents had hobbies that they seemed to do pretty regularly. My dad is a woodworker and my mom is a sewer. I’m not a handy person but when I first got out of college pursued jewelry making (setting myself up with an obligatory Etsy shop). I did it a fair bit (and dumped a lot of money into supplies), enough to realize all the reasons I didn’t like it all that well. I used to play sax, but without a band to play in I’m not that into it. Writing has been a hobby that I’m also trying to treat less like a hobby and more like a profession.
I suppose blogging is the closest thing I have to an ongoing long-term hobby. Tied in with that are my dabbling efforts at joining the Indie Web. It’s actually helpful to think of it as a new hobby I’m getting into, an offshoot of blogging and hosting my own websites.