Our parents discovered leisure. We killed it.

Often she’d hike the mountains that border Nevada, or the stream beds that crust over in summer, searching for new plant life. She’d compare her treasures to botany books, then label and press them for safekeeping. A few times, she couldn’t find entries at all; she’d discovered plant species that no one had named. This earned her small accolades from the scientific community, but really she just loved to press flowers.

She was a hobbyist by nature. When not caring for family, she would dry pine needles and weave them into coasters or Christmas ornaments. But she was also a product of her time. In the post-war era, hobbies were what people did in their spare time, after work: basketball, cooking, writing poetry, fixing motorcycles. These were activities people didn’t feel whole without.

My great aunt died not long ago, in 2000, but she would have a hard time understanding how my generation uses its spare time. For many of us, the hobby is dead. Our work lives have merged with our free time, and hobbies are now often indistinguishable from second jobs. In a culture obsessed with productivity, the hobby has become the next venture.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *