After having spent the better part of the last three weeks reading every chance I get, the other night I decided to watch a movie before bedtime instead. I chose a genuinely interesting documentary about an obscure artist -- precisely the thing that should have captured my attention. And it did… basically.
Still, I was surprised by how much more boring it was to watch a movie, compared with reading. By the end of the two hours, I felt a pang of regret at not having spent that time with my book instead. I'm glad I took the time to do this, because it was instructive to be reminded how much better it is to do X rather than Y, but now that I've confirmed this, I'll stick with X from now on.
It's not that I think everyone would be better off reading than watching TV. (Although who among us would dispute the veracity of that claim?) No, what I found interesting about this discovery is that it hit me emotionally, similar to the way I discovered that I'd much rather be running than doing hardly anything else.
On one significant occasion, I remember golfing with my father on a beautiful course set within a state park, near where I grew up. Lush and beautiful forest land rose up from a pristine lake and twisted high into the mountains before dwindling into the tree line. Anyone in their right mind would be beyond pleased to golf in such a picturesque location. Instead of that, though, I found myself peering deep into the trees, searching for little winding singletrack trails where I could imagine myself running; running free with the birds and the deer, high into the mountains, leaving the golf course far behind me.
It happened again on another occasion. This time, I wasn't golfing, I was hiking with friends. We were laughing and having a great time, too. Still, it felt wrong. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was pining for a missed opportunity. It was only after hiking a long time in silent reflection that I finally realized what I was pining for. I didn't want to hike this trail, I wanted to run it.
Dozens of such experienced piled up over the course of my youth until I finally relented to the realization that all these various activities just aren't for me. I don't want to waste my precious time meandering along boardwalks or swinging expensive clubs. All I want to do is tie my running shoes on and go. The only thing that's come anywhere near that feeling for me is cycling, but it's still a second-best option.
I don't know whether other people have similar feelings. I expect that many people place at least some significant value on variety. No matter how much they love running, or reading, or movies, or golf… they still desire variety to such an extent that they'd rather engage in second-tier and third-tier activities if only for the sake of change. I don't think this is a bad way to go, but it's not a sentiment with which I can identify. For me, once I've established what my favorite activities are, that's what I'd like to spend my time doing. In fact, I dread having to be pulled away from my books and my running shoes and my guitars in order to go to some party or have some picnic somewhere. More often than not, I will figure out a way to work a run into the excursion, or bring a guitar or a book along.
I like my primary hobbies so well that I'm willing to sacrifice even refreshing changes in order to keep to my favorite activities. There might be no one else out there like me in this regard, but I am what I am, and I enjoy it this way.
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