I started asking myself about the bigger picture; about where my hobby fits into my life; about how to enjoy a hobby when your work life balance is about as off centre as it can get. And this proved to be a good thing, because I actually surprised myself with the answers I came away with.
The question I asked was the title of this post, 'Does Your Hobby Work for You?'
Our hobby is one of many parts. There's the models themselves, from assembling to painting and basing. There's the scenery and gaming boards we make or purchase. There's the research, whether historical or sci-fi and fantastical that tells us all about our period of interest, and there's the gaming with like minded friends. Each is as important as the next. Each is dependent on the others to create our hobby.
And how we approach each, will affect what we want to get out of our hobby. Those who love gaming and don't like sticking endless bits of glue and metal together will purchase preassembled and prepainted models. Those of us who aren't into scratch building scenery will purchase theirs. And those who are into the latest meta list building aren't going to find much to entice them to the games.of Two Fat Lardies.
All these approaches are equally valid. Because it all boils down to what you want to get out of your hobby.
Even the most cursory glance through the articles on my blog will reveal how much fun I have in collecting, assembling and painting my models and scenery. Time after time, you'll find me talking about enjoying the journey of collecting, assembling and painting models and making scenery. The conclusion is, perhaps, a simple one: gaming is the destination this all works towards.
Anyone I game with will tell you how much I love the hobby, and how much joy I find in my gaming experience. But I've had it all wrong for many years. Very wrong indeed. And sometimes it's your loved ones who can help you get the clarity you need.
For me, I've apparently spent a lot of time talking about 'never having time for hobby. And my family would be quick to point out how my comments clearly didn't seem to include the time I'd spent looking at rulebooks, hosting virtual games, and being a part of a number of Virtual Lard events. Which is clearly all hobby, right?
Yes, it is. But there was obviously something missing: time spent painting. And in my head, whether invisible to me, or bloomin' obvious to my loved ones, I hadn't made that connection.
My hobby clearly wasn't working for me.
Because, for me at least, painting isn't the journey. It's the destination. And that realisation has been a revelation.
You see, I find great contentment, relaxation and joy when I get time to paint. It makes life more bearable. It distracts from the demands of work and family. It's a safe place I look forward to go to. Sure, it's results enable me to play games. But the games are a bonus. The model making is my actual destination.
But it doesn't always work like that. There are times when I'm far from de-stressed by painting. Times when I can't get things to work. And when that happens, confidence packs it's bags and heads out the door. Doubt comes in. Sadness takes over. Things get packed away. Stuff doesn't get done. And a sickness fills the stomach when I next think about painting. Pretty soon, I'd rather mow the carpet than battle with the idea of picking up a paintbrush.
Why does this happen? Well, it's this journey vs. destination thing all over. You see, when I'm able to enjoy my painting, all goes well and happiness comes in. This is the time when my painting is my destination. But when I'm trying to work to a deadline, or wanting something done so I can get on to the next thing, well, that's when it all unravels. Because painting has become a journey. The focus has been shifted. Or, to put it another way, when the completed job is the destination, and my painting is the journey, everything grinds to a halt. But when the painting is the destination, and gaming is a joyful consequence of time at my destination, I always do my best work. And that's because I'm in my happy place. Because that's when my hobby is then working for me. And when it isn't, my hobby is a chore. It ends up feeling like work. And what's the point in that?
So if you're struggling to find joy in your hobby, perhaps you should ask yourself the same question I did.
Is your hobby working for you?
The answer could be quite a revelation...