Passionate hobbies

When you find yourself doing an activity effortlessly, with no time constraints and not needing any positive reinforcement, it is what I call an open window, or passionate hobby.

The key is, you will know or intuitively feel this is one of your true passions because it will afford you one of your best opportunities to be in this always-present, ageless child.

There are an infinite number of hobbies, but it is always about choice. And our choosing does not depend on expectations or approval of your spouse, friend, mother or dad, or any other person.

An example for me is hiking, and it is one of these passions or open windows to the still, quiet presence of nature. I call it attentive strolling.

When I was younger, it was about seeing how much I could push my physical body and to make it stronger. Then, as I got older, my primary motivation was to relax and observe the unlimited array of beautiful, pristine physical scenes.

It is like you are strolling with a 5- to 8-year-old child. They are not engaged in political or philosophical discussions, nor do they care one whit about the scientific names of the plant and animal species.

Nothing escapes their keen, observant eye. They see a root and it becomes a dragon; a rattling of leaves blowing becomes a ghost's lurking presence.

So, we too can choose this slow strolling of very alert watchfulness of whatever pops up. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Envy is suicide." But, it is hard not to be envious of Walt Whitman's vivid, pristine descriptions of nature.

Wow, to have that level of intense awareness where he was able to lay down for the whole day on the grass and watch the kaleidoscope of colors and cloud formations in the sky. Each and every season has its own uniqueness to enjoy. One of my happiest moments is the fresh, new spring leaves bursting forth, glistening in the bright sunshine as I work my garden or flower beds. The sparrows know it is spring. And I have only heard secondhand accounts of the indescribable bursting forth of fall colors of the Midwest or East. Or what a delight in the fall to watch the spiraling, spinning, soaring, double back flips of the colorful leaves as they make their last majestic flight to earth. The first cold snap or hard rain is a refreshingly pleasant contrast from the sultry and hot days of summer and fall.

I am sure there are some readers asking, "How can I be in this ageless child in my cramped work cubicle or in my workshop in the garage?" Because the physical scene in which you find yourself cannot or does not determine the quality of your experience. You can fall victim to the story or voice in your head and allow anger, fear, jealously, or any judgment to derail you from this ageless child wisdom. Echkart Tolle is correct that our thinking is very repetitive. But, we can, as Ralph Waldo Emerson says, "get our bloated ego out of the divine circuits."

Day by day, here a little and there a little, whether at work, inside or outside, this ageless child becomes more and more evident. The evidence is that your daily life becomes transformed. For example, you find yourself actually improving your work duties. You feel less stress and you no longer are involved in the typical infighting. By being very observant you catch yourself before reacting or judging others. No longer do you fall victim to the "should have" or "could have." You find yourself doing very little thinking and more and more in stillness or gaps of ageless child.

Kahil Gibran Hawes summarizes what it means to work. He could have used words like "hobby" or "passion," too: "Work is love made visible. It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth."

Jim Hawes is a retired language arts teacher from the Rogue River school district. This essay is from his soon-to-be-published book, "Ageless Child" by Balboa Press.

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