Sometimes when you look at your own life, it can be like that scene in Lord of the Rings where Frodo looks into Galadriel’s mirror. Only instead of seeing your own possible future that may involve an epic quest, a long-bearded wizard in robes, and smoking & drinking with hobbits, you look at your present and how your past shaped it. You reflect on how you’ve changed, evolved, grown, and matured as an adult.
I’ve been doing exactly that more and more over the past several weeks. A dose of self-reflection with a dash of nostalgia (and maybe a little booze…just a little **insert over exaggerated winky face here**). I realize how much I’ve grown, evolved, and matured over the last several years. This doesn’t mean I’ve changed into a completely different person. I haven’t. However, I feel like I’ve grown and matured in certain ways, having learned from the past because of my achievements and mistakes, trials and errors, pizzas and beers.
You see, I’m the type of person who gets more ideas in his head than there are bad Nicholas Cage movies. And, because of this, I could never pin myself to just one idea to pursue as a profession, occupation, or career. Throughout my youth each day my brain would bounce from idea to idea of the things I wanted to do. An archaeologist, a world traveler, a rock star, a writer, a historian or history professor, and then my brain–SQUIRREL!!
I became frustrated with myself because my brain constantly bounced around, and this left me unhappy. But now? I’m happy with my professional and extracurricular life. This fact is quite ironic. Why? Because I do none of those aforementioned things professionally. Instead, they’ve become hobbies.
You see, I work for a good company doing a job I like. I get decent paychecks, and there’s a great camaraderie and flexibility there. I have a career I enjoy and am happy with it. And with it, comes a sense of stability and contentment. But what about those ideas I constantly waffled on? Allow me to elaborate:
–I used to want to travel via extended trips, such as a three-month backpacking trip through Europe, or something like in the film “Eat, Pray, Love.” That’s not me anymore. I still enjoy travel, but I’d rather go on shorter trips, such as long weekend jaunts and yearly vacations. For instance, in recent years I went on some long weekend trips to visit Washington DC, Gettysburg, and New York. Hence, travel is my hobby.
–In my early 20s my brother and I had our own heavy metal band. We also played in a metal band briefly in my early 30s. Both of us wanted to be rock stars. Now, I don’t want to be a rock star. However, my brother and I play in a classic & modern rock cover band in Sacramento, and I really enjoy jamming and playing the occasional venue around town. I also play in a monthly Irish music session at the Fox & Goose pub. Hence, music is my hobby.
–I’ve always loved history and archaeology. I wanted to be an archaeologist and/or professional historian. I actually went to graduate school for a semester and found that I really didn’t enjoy it. At least I tried it, right? But there’s nothing wrong with being an amatuer historian and binge-watching The Civil War by Ken Burns…right? Hence, history is my hobby.
–And as for archaeology? The Presidio of San Francisco has an archaeological dig site, excavations, and a laboratory. They accept volunteers, which I was more than happy to sign up for. I get to be a weekend Indiana Jones. Hence, archaeology became my hobby.
–I’ve loved books and reading since I was a teenager and have wanted to write my own tales. I still do that. I’m just writing as more of a hobby now. However, the difference between this hobby and the others is that I’m still working to finish the books I started, and I intend to submit them to agents and/or publishers. If my books eventually get published, that’s great! If not, then that’s okay. Hence, writing is still my hobby.
Looking back, I realize how immature I must’ve been. Even though I had many great life experiences, my own undecidedness, my tendency to SQUIRREL! made things rather unstable and untenable. But a person can grow and evolve (hopefully not growing and evolving into swamp creatures like the mold buildup does at Florida rest stops).
As another example, I no longer want to just bounce around the planet. I enjoy having a homebase, a home, from which I can continue enjoying life. I’m currently saving to buy a house, and hope to do so soon. Sacramento is my home, and my family and friends are here. I get to go to Republic FC soccer matches, game nights or evenings at the pub, and also rocking out with the cover band I mentioned. Although if I lived anywhere else right now, I’d consider the California coast.
And I’ve been finding new hobbies. I’m part of a league-winning bar trivia team, and last summer, I took swing dancing classes. I’m very self-conscious when it comes to dancing, and for me to have fun going swing dancing speaks volumes. As in, it would speak enough volumes to reach the level of Vogon poetry.
I’ve learned that life doesn’t have to be huge and complicated. It can be just as exciting and fulfilling if it’s simple and stable. If you’re looking for an epic quest, navigating California traffic to the store because you just had Taco Bell and ran out of toilet paper can be a harrowing journey itself. We all try our best to make our lives worthwhile. We grow and mature, and try to be better people for it. Never stop doing these things. I know I won’t. Who knows how much I’ll continue to grow?
I’ll sign off with this bit of advice. If someone resembling a long-bearded wizard in dirty robes approaches you in the street asking if you’d like to meet his hobbit friend, be cautious. This could just be a random hobo with his tweaker friend named, Douche Baggins.