Acharya Prafullachandra Roy, who in his days used so much to influence, the minds of Youngman, was never tried of reminding them, ‘Every Englishman rides a hobby-horse”. He wanted to teach us the very great need of having a hobby in life. A hobby is something that we pursue for the sake of pleasure only, with no idea of making a profit out of it.
Stamp collecting is a great hobby. Some pursue photography; it is more expensive but very pleasant. Some go out fishing; it is the hobby of the meditative man. To sit near a tank or lake with the rod and line in hand, lost in a dream of catching a big fish that would never be caught, nothing can be more pleasant than this. Others again devote their spare hours to the arts and crafts, painting or shaping or gardening, according to the mind’s sweet will. These are creative hobbies. Abanindranath Tagore took a hobbyist’s pleasure in turning useless knick-knacks into pretty toys. Gandhiji’s hobby was charka; it brought peace to his mind and helped to set an example to the people. In his old age, painting was Tagore’s great hobby. There may be as many hobbies as there are men.
We in India have very few hobbies. Gossiping or adda is almost the only thing that gives us the best pleasure. Hobbies are necessary for mental relaxation. The more strenuous life becomes, the greater will be the longing for some refreshing hobby. After a day’s hard work, it is a real treat to divert our mind with something inessential but highly interesting, something in which success is welcome but failure will not matter. Blesses is a man who has such a means of escaping from the drudgery of routine.
In selecting hobbies, certain elementary principles should be observed. One must select a hobby that a pleasing to one’s self. How often have we had occasion to curse a neighbor who has adopted music as a hobby. He inflicts on others something annoying to them. A hobby is extremely personal; it is quite possible that to others it will not appear pleasant at all. The truth is that one must not intrude one’s personal hobbies on other people’s attention. One should be careful not to select a hobby that is too expensive. For them it will become a burden. Even hobbies should have some social aim. They should be creative. A purely personal hobby may promote selfishness and feeling of isolation. Last of all, one should not try to make hobby his profession. G.B. Shaw calls that man fortunate who can earn from his hobby. But in that case his hobby will not prove as interesting.
A hobbyist’s joy is known only to himself. It fills his idle hours. It may draw around him a circle of friends who cultivate the same hobby. It gives one that indefinable joy, the joy of personal satisfaction. Another joy it gives is equally pleasant, the joy of forgetting personal cares and worldly anxieties. It is a relief from the boredom or drudgery of one’s daily life.
An important thing to guard against is that a hobby must never become an obsession or a passion. Let him not be a man with a single interest outside which he cannot think or speak. When a hobby becomes a passion or addiction, it may make a man unmindful of his duties or responsibilities. It is as bad as drinking or gambling. Hobbies are meant to diversify the monotony of daily routine, more than this they must never become obsession. Remember that a hobby is a walking stick, not a crutch to lean on.