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  • Hobby Fatigue

    I retired a couple of years ago -- something I had not expected to happen. A generous gift from a relative made that possible. I had always told people I would retire "feet first". It's great to have been wrong about that.

    And let me counter some misinformation out there. From the my earliest days as a wage-earner I heard my co-workers predict that Social Security would be extinct by the time I retired -- that it was a government rip-off, and even if I did get Social Security benefits it would never be enough to retire on.

    Wrong on both counts. My wife and I are living very comfortably on our Social Security benefits. And doing quite well with Medicare, despite some major medical issues. I have a sizable amount of retirement savings on top of that which we are pretty much leaving alone.

    Keep your government hands off my Social Security and Medicare!

    I do not regret those paycheck deductions over all those many years.

    Sorry for the digression...

    Another story I used to hear at work was about men who retired and then died a year or two later because without a job they became bored, listless, and wasted away. (Or, alternatively, they lost their will to live being unable to escape their wives all day.) That, I was certain, would not be me because I have always been deeply involved with my hobbies, always had several projects on the boil and more simmering on the back burners, and enjoyed all of them immensely.

    Well now a couple of years in I am having days when the prospect of working on my hobbies just does not inspire me. Some of that has to do with the state of my projects. Few of my projects are straight-forward, with a clear and well-defined scope of work from start to finish. Almost every one involves finding a way to execute something I have never done before, and either requires developing skills I do not have, or inventing a solution that simply doesn't exist. When I hit one of those barriers I frequently back off and give myself time to either accumulate the energy to charge ahead, or time to come up with new and hopefully better ideas.

    Trouble is, after a while I can accumulate a number of projects that have all stalled out in that manner. Faced with a bunch of projects with no good way forward on any of them, I can get bummed.

    One solution is to go take a nap. Being retired gives me that freedom. For those of you who are not yet retired it is something you can look forward to. The clock is no longer your tyrant.

    And even just lying down for 20 minutes is often enough to recharge me. And then I can do an end run around the issue. I can find a job that only requires mindless effort. Cleaning up the kitchen. Mowing the grass. Filing papers in my office.

    Or writing posts for SCI.

    Look, I shouldn't complain. It is a great problem to have. I'm privileged, and I know it.

    There are some projects I may never finish.

    And there is one hobby I am giving up entirely. I am selling off my motorcycles. I've probably have as much fun working on them as riding them. But I haven't been riding them much at all the last few years, so it makes sense to sell them.

    On the other hand I've revived an old hobby. I am refurbishing my old HO model railroad layout. I'm also trying to get my head around a new digital control system that I purchased several years ago. Intricate and frustrating that.

    And I've taken up a new hobby -- 3D printing. Mostly I am making parts for my other new hobby -- 1/32nd slotcars. That one I picked up when I started racing with the IHSR club a couple years' back.

    Okay. I'm done slacking off for now. I have a project for my model railroad out in the garage that needs a little more of my time.

    Hope you enjoyed the read.

    Ed Bianchi

  • #2
    Interesting and thoughtful post, Mr. Bianchi. Regarding HO railroading: this is the time of year that I wish I had space for a holiday display. (My slot car table was originally intended to be a model train layout, but while waiting for delivery of a train my then-young daughter and I set up the slot car set on the table. Turns out high velocity slot cars and trains are not a great fit unless one has quite a bit of space.) I like your approach of nap-taking, I'm no scientist but I think there are studies that confirm this to be beneficial to problem solving.

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    • #3
      I like having several irons in the fire. I always thought that was healthy, but I have also seen that with too many irons, the fire cant stay hot enough to get anything done. An old, worn out analogy I know, but still true. I often wonder what it would be like to, hopefully comfortably, retire. Or for now, at least have some time. Well, I must be careful what I wish for, and be thankful for what I have. In 2017, I had cancer surgery and was effectively out of work for 6 months. It kinda drove me nuts, but I took my anxiety out on my hobbies. I organized! Slot car bodies and chassis, diecast projects and collections, Star Wars collections and projects. I had a blast for those 6 months, even though I would have rather had the time a different way. I did experience some burn out, but I think we all do at times. I got into some major projects I didnt get to finish. A routed track, a track table, 3d print projects, decal projects, all sorts of stuff. its all sitting in a container, waiting for us to land in a more permanent home. With the little I have here, I keep on.

      Just have fun man...

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      • #4
        Ed,
        I liked your post; and having been retired for two years now, I can relate with most everything you said. When we sold our home and downsized (empty nesters don't need a big home & yard) to a town home/condo association (I wanted no more outside yard work), I had to pack up all my HO track, structures, and cars for a year. Then the wife retired, freeing up my loft for the hobby I had missed. Now with my loft layout, I can spend my free time (I still have "household chores" like laundry, vacuuming, dishes) adding/detailing my layout, modifying my cars (I still raced with others prior to the pandemic), and be on Forums like this. We too benefit from the Social Security income we contributed to all our working lives, and Medicare has worked, while we still have pension benefits to fall back on if needed.
        While burrowing at home during this pandemic (and being careful & masked when having to be outside shopping), when this is over, we travel in country to visit family/friends ; no more airplane flights for me, no "sea cruises"either. If I cannot drive to it, I am not interested in seeing it.
        It would be easy to become inactive and lethargic; LOTS of stuff on TV to watch / catch up on. But I have one grandson (age 10) who LOVES slot cars, and racing on my layout, and another on the way in maybe two weeks. I want to be there for them when they are graduating High School, at the least........

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        • #5
          Ntxslotcars identified an activity I've spent a lot of time on when I'm willing to work, but not up for challenging stuff -- organizing.

          I've spent a lot of time recently making small racks for screwdriver bits, Dremel accessories, a thread-tapping kit, sorting parts into 30-drawer organizers and labeling said drawers. I've made an organizer for all my brass, aluminum and stainless steel tubing out of cardboard tubes. I've also been throwing out stuff that no longer has a role in my life.

          I'm actually starting to worry about the mess I'm going to leave to my heirs and assigns when I finally croak.

          Actually, nah. If they want their inheritance they're going to have to work for it. I just hope someone has the sense to go through my models and tools and keep some of the good stuff.

          Ed Bianchi

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