Defiance of the contemporary

One dreary January day, I received this surprise in the mail from Boomdeeville. It said "I care" better than any monetary extravagance ever could. The gift of time is precious indeed! January 2014

One dreary January day, I received a beautifully wrapped surprise from faraway Canada.
Boomdee knows how to say “I care” better than any monetary extravagance ever could.
The gift of time via a handmade creation is precious indeed! January 2014

“A hobby is a defiance of the contemporary. It is an assertion of those permanent values which the momentary eddies of social evolution have contravened or overlooked. If this is true, then we may also say that every hobbyist is inherently a radical, and that his tribe is inherently a minority.” – Aldo Leopold

This quote from Leopold was so intriguing that I had to give it a lot of thought.  I started to think of my own hobbies; reading, writing, crafts, gardening, photography, correspondence with friends and relatives. All have increasingly little place in what contemporary society deems necessary or efficient.

Most hobbies represent facets of life that are necessary, but are more commonly met in more “efficient” institutional or minimal ways. But mass industrialized farming is not the same thing as gardening or hunting.  Photographs taken purely for fun are different from those taken for financial gain, and the reading or writing of business or commercial copy is not the sort of writing I think of as a hobby.

Do you have a hobby?  Is there anything you do that is done for the pleasure and benefit of yourself or someone else, in defiance of what is commonly thought of as an effectively time-managed method of accomplishing a similar outcome? If so, you are (at least according to Leopold) a radical in the best sense of the word.  I like to think that I, too, am a member of the minority that constitutes this tribe.

I think of the beautiful crocheted items that Dani produces.  Certainly blankets could be manufactured much more cheaply and quickly, but could they ever hold the love and beauty that she puts into each gift she makes?

I think of Alys and her gardens, or Pauline and her artwork, or the many readers of this blog who have other interests that require time and discipline.  Some prefer biking to automobile travel.  Some prefer cooking for loved ones to eating in restaurants.  Some prefer harvesting their own wild game by hunting, rather than buying packaged meats in the supermarket.  Some enjoy communicating daily via encouraging words, to people whom they have never met (thank you, Sheila and others who comment here frequently).

All are acting in defiance of the unspoken laws of society that say: That takes too much time.  That isn’t worth the effort.  People are too busy to keep in touch.  Nobody sends cards and letters via postal mail anymore.  It costs more to grow your own food than to buy it at the grocery store.  Why waste so much time on something that might not be fully appreciated?

On and on the subliminal or overt messages of the naysayers go, sometimes provoking guilt in us for spending time on that which they might see as unnecessary.  These negative messages are generated in no small part by those who want to sell us on empty entertainment to fill the void that is left when we abandon mindful enjoyment of wholesome recreation.

In some circles, online communities are increasingly referred to as “tribes,” but long before there was such a thing as online social media, Leopold identified a tribe that is present in full force, both online and in the unplugged world.  It is a tribe of radicals, to which you probably belong: those who “just say no” to the pressure to do everything in the fastest, cheapest, shallowest way possible.  Despite what some might think, I believe our numbers are growing, and the world will be better for it.

One year ago today:

What to do

18 Comments

  1. singleseatfighterpilot

    “Wind in His Hair’s words are strong, and I have heard them.” (Spoken by Chief Ten Bears in the movie, “Dances With Wolves”)
    Julia, sometimes the strength of your words blows me away!
    “. . . Messages of the naysayers . . . Pressure to do everything in the fastest, cheapest, shallowest way possible. . .”
    Magnificient!
    My friend who hiked over 1100 miles of the Appalachian Trail, this Summer; two days ago took a 5 X 5 bull Elk, in Colorado, with one arrow!
    Where do we get such men!?!?

    • You just quoted what is probably my favorite line from that movie (although the words “put that in yo book” are most often repeated in our house). Thanks for your generous comments about the post. As to your question “Where do we get such men?” — Apparently, the same place we’ve always gotten them, in the great outdoors, on the trails. (I recently wrote a post about Meriwether Lewis for the somber anniversary coming up on October 10-11, inspired by my recent drive down part of the Natchez Trace.)

  2. raynard

    Julia while my writing has taken a vacation, I still enjoy reading when I find the time.I dont go to the movies as much and only see” snippets” of T.V at work. Lately it’s been reruns of the 70 show on Youtube Barney Miller.( I did see the first episode of Mr Ed the talking horse and no I wont mention” The Beverly Hillbillies in the same sentence lol) I have a church potluck on the 11 of next month. Going to do a “Fall Cake( Orange and Brown velvet cake with maple frosting…

    • Maple frosting sounds YUMMY and perfect for fall! I loved Mr. Ed. Such a smart mouth. I also loved the Beverly Hillbillies and now that my mother is older she reminds me a whole lot of Granny Clampett (she never reads the blog, so I can say that). If I ever have time I hope I can go back and watch reruns of those funny old shows. I miss the days when things could be funny without nasty language or dirty jokes.

  3. MaryAnn

    Our lovely, loving Julia has spoken! Your writing creativity shines as you guide us on this path of recognizing the worth in using our minds & hands. Quilting is rather new to me, having started in July 2008. I feel immense joy putting together something for someone who needs to know they are loved. Our group’s first quilts were donated to Agape Village Children’s Home. We are told stories of children asking, “Someone made this for me because they love me?”. The director tells us it is a piece of the healing process.
    Alpha Pregnancy Center & The Children’s Nurturing Project also receive quilts from us. Mission Solano Homeless Shelter & Rescue built a home especially for homeless veterans, on their compound. I am working on another quilt for one of those veterans. I will happily spend time doing thus today, sans guilt! πŸ™‚

    • Mary Ann, thanks for your generous comments and for what you are doing making these quilts! I think the residents of Mission Solano must feel extra warmth from a quilt made just for them, rather than a donated blanket. I have never done any quilting, but I admire those who do. Such creativity, and one of the most beautiful ways to recycle and re-use fabric scraps, too. Thanks so much for being YOU!

  4. Julia, you recently used one of my favorite sayings, “So be it!” and it was a gift that you didn’t even realize. You see, it was a phrase often (very often) used by my mom. πŸ™‚ I tend to defy contemporary everyday, and will continue to do so. I think the world is a better place through you, “Defeat Despair” and this circle of wonderful people. So be it! πŸ™‚ Love to all, Sheila

    • Sheila, you are right, I didn’t even realize I used it. Now I will think of you and your Mom when I catch myself saying it. πŸ™‚ ❀ I truly appreciate your lovely compliment that this blog makes the world better. That means a great deal to me. I think whenever people get together in a spirit of good will and sharing, the light shines a bit brighter into darkness. Thanks so much for being part of our gatherings here!

  5. Jack

    What an interesting blog topic! I grew up with a dad that was sharp in both intellect and tongue. He was also a risk-taker, a risk-taker in the good sense. He figured if a carpenter/electrician/plumber/architect/farmer could do it, so could he. He was a business executive, but had the temperament that insisted that he would invest his time and energy into many endeavors. He found some he really liked (carpentry, architecture) and some he disdained (auto repair, painting…no Picasso’s in my family), but he tried them all. How awful life would be if we only focused on being efficient; how will you find what you love without doing some stuff you don’t?

    50 amps and 220 V will light you up, but unless you’re just really unlucky, they won’t kill you. I know this from my days as a reluctant electrical apprentice (from 6-17, when I fortunately went off to college with all my digits and faculties intact). Mom was never all that crazy about dad’s risk tolerance in that endeavor.

    • Jack, I think those of us who grew up with fathers willing to try various projects are so lucky. Maybe it’s my imagination, but it seems there were more of these types in their generation than there are in ours. I’m sure his legacy has been with you in many situations that were difficult (or even “shocking” πŸ˜€ ) and though you may not have all the same interests he did, the spirit still seems to be there. Thanks for sharing your memories of him. It made me smile.

  6. That is an interesting quote – one that bears some thinking about! I have also heard ‘tribes’ being referred to as the new extended family where personal beliefs and ways of life make up the members. I quite like that! Thank you for the ping-back πŸ™‚ xoxo

    • Pauline, aren’t we lucky to be able to find our “tribes” online, where we can connect across boundaries, time zones and even the international date line? I so enjoyed our Monday night (your Tuesday morning) Skype visit awhile ago! Hugs to Siddy and Orlando — and of course, to you too ❀ .

  7. (( Julia )) how sweet to have a photo of something I’ve made included with your quote this day. Thank you for those kind words too. I remember that project πŸ˜€ I just love playing in the ‘Boom-room’ so it’s a gift to me to spend time there too. I hadn’t heard the name ‘Aldo Leopold’ so linked over to read all about him. How extraordinary that he was a conservationist back when I think of the country as being so pure and unspoilt. He was way ahead of the curve. How raw and wild things must have been back in 1909 when he graduated from Yale Forestry School.

    The article went on to say Leopold’s philosophy was to see nature β€œas a community to which we belong.” I very much relate to that. We come to think of nature as being a given, free to enjoy when we have time to do so. Increasingly, it’s clear that we all need to make a conscious effort to nurture our environment so that it continues to be there for us to enjoy. One of the nicest things about having a blog is getting to know people who share similar feelings about our communities and other things like art, gardening, writing, crafting.

    Honestly, the way we encourage and support each from miles apart is a testament to the power of the written word. I almost think we can get to know someone ‘better’ thru writing than any other way. I know that’s why I feel so close to my tribe (you know who you are), Big Hugs, xoxK

    • I had never heard of Aldo Leopold either, but I enjoyed reading about him. I learn a lot from writing this blog. I agree with you that we get to know each other better through writing, though it’s nice to have a combination of ways to interact. I’ve always loved writing letters, and blogging is a lot like that I think. But of course, those beautiful handmade cards and other goodies that come in the postal mail add a wonderful dimension to the words. πŸ˜€ ❀

    • xoxoxoxox

  8. Julia, both you and Boomdee put this so eloquently. I don’t have anything new to add, accept to say I’m happy to be part of the tribe, and find I thrive on it every day. xoxo

    • Thank you Alys, I agree – I do thrive on doing something original and creative, and always tell myself I should make more time for it. It’s very therapeutic, a good antidote for almost anything that is bothering me. BTW you did an AMAZING job of re-creating that costume! Fabulous!

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