If You Build It…

If the title and the picture of a man standing in a cornfield led you to believe this was going to be about the 1989 movie, “Field of Dreams,” starring Kevin Costner as Iowan farmer Ray, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Or perhaps you thought it was going to be about the 2015 documentary “If You Build It” about a group of high school students who discover their inner architects over the course of an academic year…sorry, wrong again! Perhaps the second photo to the right of the cornfield, the one of a model car kit, had you thinking: What does this have to do with imaginary baseball players? Nothing. So, allow me to clear this up for you.

This is about a teenage hobby that I shared with a good friend of mine for several years: building model cars from the kits like the one pictured above. Hobbies, of course, come and go, and I haven’t built a model car for at least 56 years, yet the memory of those days with Mike, toiling away in his basement and trying not to get high from the glue fumes are firmly implanted in my brain. While I was fairly decent at building these cars, Mike was on a whole other level in terms of his meticulous devotion to the craft. I may have been a part of the model car building culture at the time, but it was really by association only. For example, his completed model cars could be compared to the original Mona Lisa, while mine looked more like the Mona Lisa poster you would buy at a gas station! That is why it did not surprise me, or our other two close friends, when he decided to become a dentist!

I would open a new box, take out the instructions and plastic pieces, and start building. Mike, on the other hand, would open the box, take out the instructions, and read them several times, studying them like it was for a final exam. I would already be gluing pieces together, while he was just starting to take all the pieces out of the box and writing labels for them with detailed notes on the best way to attach one part to another. When we advanced to the point of painting these model cars, his meticulousness went into overdrive! He built painting stations out of cardboard, fashioned wire hangers to hold each part so there would be not fingerprints on the paint and used at least three coats of paint on every piece, no matter how small. When he was done with a car, it was truly a beautiful thing to behold. He still has some of the better ones proudly displayed on a shelf in his home. I, on the other hand, do not!

When this memory popped into my head a few days ago, it got me thinking about hobbies and their similarities and differences to interests. Many of us have been asked when applying for a job, or when we are tweaking our resumés, what are your hobbies and interests. The easiest way to separate the two is to think of hobbies as “activities,” something that you are physically or mentally doing, whereas interests are things you might want to be doing, but they have not reached the point of “doing” yet. There are a “gazillion” different hobbies, and there is really no such thing as a finite list of what they are. A quick Internet search gave me a list of 250 hobbies, including everything from Acroyoga (I have no idea what that is!) to Zumba!

While hobbies are great activities to have and do, and, as far as I’m concerned, the more the better, there can be a problematic aspect to them. This occurs when one decides the following: “Hey, I really love doing this I should make this hobby my job.” Now, this may work for some people, I mean, can you think of anything better than taking something you absolutely love to do and making it your job and earning money from your hobby? However, there are times when the job makes the hobby less appealing because…well, it’s a job and now the hobby that used to give you pleasure has all the “baggage” that comes with being gainfully employed. You know, meetings, more meetings, deadlines, structure, dress code, annoying colleagues, annoying boss, jamming photocopiers…and the list goes on and on! I write from experience on this one, as I used to live, eat, and breathe skiing when I was growing up, and, for various reasons and opportunities, that love for the sport/hobby turned into several different jobs over the course of about twenty years. While I still did ski for pleasure during this time, it was much less frequently, and towards the end of my stint in the industry, it was a couple of times in a season. When I moved on to a new vocation, the skiing came roaring back into my life. So, for me, one of the big perks of being retired is that any new hobby I get into, like writing, for example, has exactly zero chance of turning into a job, and for that I am grateful!

Los Angeles 2023

4 thoughts on “If You Build It…

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