As autumn arrives and I (hopefully) stop mowing the lawn twice a week, I find myself in search of a new hobby.
For years my primary pastime has been music. I love retreating to my music room and playing the guitar and singing. I also love drumming along to CDs.
Full disclosure, I’m a horrible singer and a below average guitar player and drummer. But I still thoroughly enjoy it. Besides if we only enjoyed those things we happen to be great at, life would be kind of empty. At least mine would.
But now one of my great pleasures has turned into a major pain. Until recently, my wife was the only one suffering because of my drumming, strumming and singing. No more.
Today, playing one or two songs on the guitar or drumming for five minutes is likely to cause me to spend the next two days with major neck pain and a migraine headache. I’m still searching for a diagnosis and fix, but until then, my music room is mostly silent.
I’ve fallen back on my other hobby: reading. I love to read, and I have enough books at home to last me the rest of my life. But as much as I enjoy reading, I can go only so long before my eyes glaze over and need a rest.
So I am searching for an enjoyable activity for those times when I’m tired of reading or grow bored with polishing guitars I can’t play. I have a couple of possibilities.
I think I would enjoy having a small greenhouse in the backyard. I’ve liked houseplants ever since I worked in the garden department at the Bloomington Kmart. Back in those days there were even shops that sold nothing but houseplants, but alas, they’ve gone the way of the waterbed store.
Unfortunately, our house has a feature that makes it a terrible environment in which to raise houseplants. His name is Sheldon. We have about five remaining plants in the house, all placed within two feet of the ceiling where (theoretically) the curious cat can’t reach them.
We used to have six, but he reached one.
Hence the need for a greenhouse. It would be relaxing to spend time in a space devoted to plants. I know almost nothing about greenhouses, or plants for that matter, so it could also be a hobby I can learn from the ground (or potting soil) up.
I’ve researched backyard greenhouses, and I could probably swing it, if I’m willing to part with a few of the guitars that are trying to kill me.
However, like my affinity for musical instruments, a greenhouse could easily turn into an expensive hobby. So I’ve come up with something that won’t cost me a cent.
I grew up in a family where deep subjects were seldom discussed. I could tell a lot about my parents just from their behavior, but there’s still much I don’t know about them, such as their political beliefs and how they arrived at them.
And, to be honest, there’s still an awful lot I have to learn about myself. Even after being me for this long, I still occasionally find myself asking, “Who am I?”
So for a while now I’ve been mulling a new writing project I’ve tentatively titled “Who Am I?” This would not be an autobiography or memoir, but rather a simple statement of what I think about the world, what I do and don’t believe, what I think does and doesn’t matter, etc.
This project would force me to think about various “deep” topics and decide once and for all where I stand.
Beyond increasing my own self-awareness, I figure this could also be a great gift to leave to my grandchildren, great-grandchildren and beyond.
It might help them feel as if they really know Papaw. It might also help them figure out their own place in the world and their own beliefs and values.
Maybe I’ll even make a cup of tea and write in the solitude of my new greenhouse. Sounds nice.
Unless I get my neck fixed. Then it’s plants schmants, let’s rock.
Doug Showalter can be reached at 379-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.