I always wanted to play the piano. I love its sound, and my fingers are long and slender, well-suited to piano playing, I am told. When our daughter took piano lessons many years ago, I signed up for lessons too, but I was a busy mom and rarely practiced. After going to class a few times and demonstrating to the teacher that I was unable to play the assigned piece, Mary Had a Little Lamb, for example, I quit.
I always wanted to sew clothes for my grandchildren. I like selecting sweet, simple patterns for sun suits, pants, and dresses. I like choosing fabric and notions (buttons, lace, etc.). I do not, however, like the sewing part. Constantly picking up pieces of thread, fabric scraps, and straight pins scattered across the room, not to mention dealing with my fury when an outfit didn’t turn out right, was too hard. I quit.
I always wanted to grow plants. Nothing is prettier than a multicolored plot of irises or a well weeded vegetable garden. Nothing is tastier than fresh, garden-grown tomatoes and green beans. I like everything about plants except the work that goes into growing my own. After laboring in the hot sun for a growing season, killing insects, pulling weeds, and faithfully watering the ever-needy little seedlings, I quit.
I always wanted to scrapbook. I am creative, love taking family photos, and like the idea of having scrapbooks that document the changes in our family. I like the cutesy craft paper used in scrapbooking, the stencils, the stickers, the fancy cutting implements, and the various page layouts shown in books. What I don’t love is cleaning the mess created when photos get mixed together with scraps of paper, and glue gets stuck to all the wrong pieces, and my creations fail to match the patterns I faithfully followed. Thus, I quit.
Life is too short for me to waste time doing non-compulsory tasks that give me no pleasure. I can enjoy listening to piano played by professionals; dress my grandchildren in adorable outfits from Kohl’s; buy fruits, vegetables, and flowers at Kroger; and look at family photos any time I want. What is more, I can enjoy these life-enhancing activities without stressing myself, destroying my house, and burdening my husband with an angry and depressed wife whose efforts at some project failed.
Writing is the one non-compulsory activity I refuse to quit practicing. I can open my laptop, pull up a clean sheet of paper, write, rewrite, delete, cut and paste, italicize, underline, change fonts, consult a dictionary and thesaurus, research ideas on Google, spell check my work, and save my piece for later without leaving any mess.
When I close my laptop, my room is not littered with scraps of fabric, gluey bits of paper, or piano pieces begging to be practiced. I don’t have to weed my laptop or kill squash bugs or tomato worms on its surface. The only time it gets watered is when I accidentally spill a glass of iced tea on the keyboard.
After much experimenting, I have found that writing is the pastime that makes me happy. I hope you have a pastime that does the same for you.