So hobbies come in all shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. There really aren’t a lot of rules about what determines a hobby. Well, that’s not exactly true… There are a few guidelines:
- A hobby should not involve your primary work obligation
- A hobby should be enjoyable and not uncomfortable or stressful
- Watching TV is not a hobby
There are things we do to let our brains unwind; however, mindless mental decompression is not the same as a hobby. Watching a movie is not a hobby. Studying movie history or trivia might be a hobby. Making movies is definitely a hobby. Hobbies aren’t supposed to be productive or intellectual by definition, but I think that a little creativity or effort needs to be present to make it “A Hobby.” I love going to the movies or chillin’ in front of the TV as much as anyone, but some part of my brain knows that these aren’t really hobbies. Same with computer games. I still have my Apple II+ system in my basement along with all of my old Infocom games [which are still amazing and cool, just for the record]. When I was about twelve, I just stopped playing video or computer games. I might occasionally indulge, but I just don’t find them to be as interesting as they once were.
My work kept me indoors for many years. At some point, I started to notice that seasons — make that years — were passing by without my notice. l would notice the leaves start to change outside of my car window, and I would say to myself, “Self, you should take some time this week to enjoy the fall color before it all fades.” My next memory would then be of shoveling snow off of my car at 5am so I could get to work on time. I would see the early spring blooms and make a mental note to check for my backyard bluebells the next week. I would then remember to do this in August when i was time to start planning the fall cleanup. How did I miss the entire passage of time? I live in a gorgeous part of the country that has beautiful seasonal changes and fabulous local parks. I never went to visit any of them.
When I started running, I kept it all on the treadmill for my first few years. It was practical… My hours were so random and my energy levels were so low that even running around my neighborhood wasn’t really a safe idea for me at that time. But as my schedule improved, I decided that it was time to go explore those Great Outdoors that everyone raved about all the time.
It’s taken awhile, but I have become a complete outdoor addict. It gets worse every year, and I couldn’t be happier. It started with running to the park a mile away from my house. Then it expanded to my local state and metro parks. Eventually, I started incorporating walking tours of every place I visited as a part of my travels. I have never rented a car when I travel. I’ve occasionally traveled with people where a rental was needed, but when I plan my trips, I always take the explorers’ approach.
I’m quite fortunate that the local metro park about 25min away from my house is an absolute gem. Summer, fall, spring or winter… It’s a spectacular resource. It surrounds a lake large enough for boating and kayaking. There are off-road trails and nature hike options, but my preference is for the 8.5-mile paved trail that surrounds the lake. Without any auto traffic, it’s perfect for those longer training runs! It has some challenging hilly sections that keep things interesting. It has a beach where a local astronomy club [another topic for another day!] puts on a big activity weekend every fall. Occasionally, I’ll stumble into an obstacle 5K race happening on the far side of the lake as I’m out training. Deer. Cranes. Swans. Herons. It’s just fabulous.
Summer or fall — Kensington Metro Park in SE Michigan is the place to be!
In 2015, I had the amazing opportunity to run the Boston Athletic Association’s annual Half Marathon. It takes place in the Emerald Necklace Olmstead park system just south of Fenway. Man, that’s a great race! Beautiful and hilly… But the whole time I ran it, I just kept telling myself that after training at my local metro park, this course was a piece of cake. It was then that I realized how lucky I was to have this park — and other gorgeous ones — at my disposal any time I liked.
Mackinac Island has its own state highway around the island perimeter. It’s about 8 miles long. M-185 is special, however, because it doesn’t allow cars. Nope! Maybe the occasional maintenance vehicle, but as it’s a historical district, the island has no motor traffic. Horse-drawn carriages and bicycles are the preferred modes of transportation. Seriously! It’s a lovely little place that just seems like another world. Running M-185 in its entirety was always a goal of mine. Last year, it finally happened. The photo of Arch Rock at the top of this post was from my run that morning. You won’t see the formation unless you head to a certain spot along the road as it’s up quite high on the sheer rock of the eastern island face. And if you go early enough in the morning, the rising sunlight hits it just right.
So along the way, I’ve decided that Going Outside counts as a hobby. It’s too amazing and wonderful to miss. I’ve learned to enjoy seasons. I’ve found that the lighting in the fall and winter *is* different than it is in the summer! And that a full moon doesn’t just mean that the crazy people will start showing up in the ER.
So go outside, my friends…
Eastern side of M-185 at sunrise…
- Where are some of your favorite outside spots?
- Does anyone else see the beauty of the cold weather? Seems like sunshine and beaches get all the good press sometimes…
- What motivates you to go outside, especially given the strong draw of electronics and social media in today’s culture?
- Active or passive? Sitting in the sunshine or out climbing trees?