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
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.