Hobbies: The hidden learnings!
Hobby - The thesaurus says it is an activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure.
I've been wondering about this for a while now. When I was a kid, we not only did what most kids of this era do - play with others, and so on - but also did a few more things. We had hobbies. Oh yes, we did not get to do stuff like watching TV, listening to music through headphones and spending time on social media. They did not exist. So did my generation have more fun than today's ? I will shout out a big 'Yes'! and I'm sure my kids are going to disagree in their own way. Well, the point is not to get into an argument over this.
Is it only me who is sensing that a majority of today's younger generation have fewer hobbies? Do they have the kind of time on their hands which we had a few decades ago?
I didn't realise it back then, but I realise it today. There were so many benefits and learnings from the hobbies I used to pursue. Some of them even now! My hobbies back then included collecting stamps, first day post covers, currency from different countries, maintaining scrap books related to car racing and Muhammed Ali's professional fighting career, arts & craft work, reading and learning to play musical instruments. Depending on the season, we either made and flew our own kites, played with 'tops' or various other games. Over the years, of course, I discontinued some of these hobbies.
Hobbies such as collecting stamps made me connect better with so many countries which I only saw as names initially on maps in my geography book. Made me look up more information from all possible sources - visits to the nearby library, listening with keen ears to anyone returning from a 'foreign trip'! Remembering subtle details about these countries which I came across in my school study material. The desire and hope to visit at least a few of these countries at some future point in time kept growing over the years and boy, when I did get the opportunities, I could recall so much from my fond memories!
Discipline & organisation
As the the collection grew (stamps, coins and other collectibles), it became clear that something had to be done about keeping them in some orderly fashion. Came in handy when showing the collection to someone too. Those days, we did not have readymade display holders / albums and so on. So we made our own. We organised them country-wise and stored duplicates safely (came in handy when exchanging them with someone else who had what we did not!).
This was fairly meticulous work and also helped in increasing concentration and patience!
Networking / Conversations / Negotiations
This was huge! I recall so many wonderful conversations with peers. Especially during social visits to some of my parents' friends' homes for the first time. The first few awkward moments sitting in a new environment, getting through all those introductions and then starting conversations with their kids. Within no time we would discover overlapping interests and get round to discussing each other's 'collections'! And on their return visit we would have struck many 'swap deals'. Negotiations used to be fun - "Hey my one postage stamp is worth 2 of yours. This country's stamp is more rare you see"! Even without any social media and phones during that era, we were able to create long lasting friendships which live on till this day. Today, we joke about how we had even 'conned' the other over some deal from back in the days!
We had excellent face-to-face conversations.
Developing new skills
Some of the hobbies involved working with tools. We used to buy spinning tops which did not have nails fitted on them. We fixed it ourselves. I remember fixing wood-screws, then breaking the head, flattening and sharpening it for 'competitions' in the neighbourhood. We built our own kites. Required quite a few skills from the aerospace domain! The balance, determining the length of the kite's tail - had to be just long enough to provide stability and short enough to provide required agility during mid-air kite fights. If you had grown up in India you definitely played gilli-danda. And this required one to create those perfectly shaped wooden gillis. Tapered on both ends. While these were skills related to manufacturing driven by design thinking the skills required to play these games was sometimes even greater.
We grew up not being afraid to learn a new skill. Thinking out-of-the-box is what we did most of the time.
Looking back, I'm certain this was all a big part of my education. Skills and competencies which I developed pursuing various hobbies continue to help me even today. In fact, some of my hobbies helped me switch careers to pursue exciting new journeys! There was never a boring day back then, and it is the same even today!