hobbies feature

Life Is Better With Hobbies


Like I don’t already have enough hobbies.

I’ve decided I need to get away from politics and news. The trouble is it’s a daily part of my life, what with working at home while listening to talk radio and reading blogs every day. But the ongoing destruction, collapse, withering, or whatever you want to call it of Western Civilization is more than a little depressing to me. Especially since there’s really nothing I can do about it except watch in horror and fascination.

I grew up thinking due process, freedom of speech, individuality and all the other tenets and characteristics of Western Civilization as emodied in America were permanent things, or at least as permanent as anything could be. I thought, “Certainly we’ve shown these characteristics to be essential to the continued thriving of human civilization, haven’t we? There’s no way we’d ever discard these ideals.”

Yeah, sure, Kid. Let me introduce you to post-modernism, marxism, radical feminism, inter-sectionality, and gender studies. They’d like to have a few words. I hope you’re armed.

Nothing is permanent. I’ve written before how in my view the real universal constant is entropy. Never has that view been so convincingly confirmed than in the ongoing destruction of what was once the greatest nation in history.

So you can perhaps see how this situation is ripe for despair and depression.

I don’t want to fall into that, so I’m cutting back on my intake of daily events and other crap. It won’t happen overnight; I’ll need to develop new habits to replace the old.

At the same time, I don’t want to completely ignore everything that’s happening. Ignorance has a way of making that eventual bullet to the back of the head a big surprise.

oil painting in progress

My first oil painting in 10 years (still in progress, about 30% done)

So I need to find a balance. But mostly I need to find things to occupy my time in between paying gigs. Since The State has seen fit to destroy my business market, I’ve got a lot of time on my hands spent staring off into space and bitching that could be better spent doing something productive, or at least interesting.

Here are five things I can do right now to distract me from the ongoing Destruction of Everything That Is Right and Beautiful About Western Civilization:

1. Write more. Set regular time each day if possible for writing. I’ve got this blog, short story ideas, even ideas for a novel and a series of novels. Why not pursue them?

2. More experimental digital painting. It’s easy to get in a rut doing the same thing every day. I should break it up and force myself to try different subjects, using different tools and methods, just to keep everything fresh and interesting.

3. Oil painting. I recently picked up my oil painting tools again. I’ve got space set aside and everything I need to get back into this art that I’ve done off and on since my teens. Again, assigning regular time for it would go a long way to sharpening my skills.

fortress rock watercolor

One of my few, my happy few, watercolor successes

4. Water-based painting. There’s no reason I can’t teach myself watercolors. It’s a hole in my skill set that should have been filled years ago. I need to spend more time with water-based painting (watercolor, guache, ink). Doing hands-on work is much more satisfying when done well, and the only way to do it well is to do it often, and learn.

ship modeling catalog

An old catalog. I drool over these like some guys drool over Victoria's Secret.

ship half hulls

My half hulls. Note bare-breasted figurehead in background, courtesy of The Missus.

5. Model ships. Finally, I hope to “carve” out some time to build wooden model ships. I’ve always loved this art form. When done well, the results are like a good lamp leg… "Indescribably beautiful!" I’ve had two false starts in trying to get started in this hobby, essentially starting on projects that were way beyond my abilities. In between these failures, I carved a couple half-hulls that look real nice (and collected a cool figurehead replica - thanks to The Missus!). Over the years, I’ve purchased (and read) ship-modeling books that are filled with good information. I’m hoping to put that information into practice. To that end, I recently ordered a new kit that will, hopefully, give me a soft landing into this hobby I’ve yearned to do for so many years. In the end it won’t make me money, it’s something I’ll do just for me.

ship modeling books

My reading material.

Like I said, it’s not like I don’t already have a few hobbies. But if filling my time with something other than bad news helps me stay sane and happy, and perhaps makes a little money in the process (selling paintings, and maybe a novel or eight), then it’s worth pursuing.

I guess, in this way, my fight against entropy will consist of making things (art, stories, wooden miniatures, etc.), thereby creating a little order out of the rising chaos, and building a world of beauty and pleasure to surround me; creating my own little secret paradise. It certainly won’t stop the inexorable grinding Destruction of All We Hold Dear, but it might improve my little slice of the universe, and make living in the coming dystopian paradise just a teensy bit less depressing.

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About the Author


Topdog is Steve Merryman, a graphic designer (retired), and illustrator. Living in the woods, Steve can often be found working on portrait commissions. In his spare time he paints, writes, shoots guns, cuts trees, hikes with his dogs, savors a beer or two, and searches for the perfect cheeseburger. He studiously avoids social media and is occasionally without pants.

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