The measure of our life can be summed up by the richness of our retirement years. In our youth, many of us struggled for self-sufficiency. Our goal back then was to find a job, buy a home, raise our children and improve our job skills. Most of us did not have the time nor the money to have a fling at a personal hobby. We simply wanted to succeed in life.
But our lives have changed, perhaps for the better. We are retired. The financial security earned allows us to follow our aspirations. We now have the luxury to pursue a goal for personal enjoyment. Our future endeavors involve striving for whatever we might like to do. We can chase any dream. It could be an idea from many years ago, something inspired by our grandkids, or volunteering to help others. Today, we can leisurely explore any interest or idea because we are at the pinnacle of our life.
Hobby choices are an expression of our personal interests. The options are immense and limited only by our imagination. So where is the starting point? First, a hobby has to be something that piques our interest and never bores us. Second, it is important, at our age, to take into consideration our physical limitations — not that our limitations would prevent us from any specific activity, but that we approach any hobby with these limitations in mind. I include a third category which ties in with the first. Is our hobby preference an activity that makes a difference in the lives of people and provides us a sense of purpose? Or is the preference a desire to create something physically tangible?
Because the essence of a hobby is deeply personal, it can offer benefits far beyond the end result of the activity. The labor of love brought to the hobby, can be a major factor in maintaining our mental and physical well-being. With each new undertaking, the mental invigoration is immeasurable.
While hobbies can result in different outcomes, the personal beneficial attributes can be similar. For this reason, I am going to discuss how gardening can enrich our lives.
The qualities of gardening can be extremely gratifying. With California’s easy-going climate, developing a garden is relatively easy and can provide an incredible sense of accomplishment, watching plants grow, flower and fruit. We interact with nature in a constant process of creation and nurturing. With our care, we develop new plants from seed and ensure each reaches maturity. Eating a freshly pulled carrot is a taste experience we would not want to miss. Our first ripened tomato is the most anticipated moment of each new gardening season. Of course, the birds attracted to the bugs becomes a mutual benefit to us, the garden and the birds.
In addition to attracting beautiful birds to our yard and providing us with delicious food, gardening has an endless array of other benefits. Working in the garden provides physical activity, helps us to stay fit, strengthens our muscles and provides essential vitamin D. As we cultivate the garden, the stress of daily life seems to vanish. The relaxing effect we get connecting with nature becomes a necessary daily occurrence. During these times of isolation, connecting with an online garden group can make a tremendous difference in our mental health.
I hope these words have conveyed a better understanding of the richness hobbies can add to your life. Now is the time to ask yourself, “What have I always wanted to do?” and in the words of Star Trek’s legendary Captain Jean Luc Picard, “Make it so.”
–Bill Wallace, IBEW 1245 Retirees Club