It’s an even split between love and stamp collecting.
By which I mean, there isn’t a best. Everything’s pretty awesome if you decide to drown your time in it. There’s an argument that you possibly shouldn’t drown your time so much. There’s more important stuff to do. But failing that, it doesn’t really matter, even if it is stamp collecting. If you can spend them time to get to know a subject inside out, you can find pleasure in it. The brain appears to be wired to enjoy learning on some level.
There are lots of different kinds of learning.
The problem is that hobbies and leisure are generally part of the dichotomy of consumer capitalism. You need busywork for when you’re not ‘productively’ busy working. It means you can train the same part of your brain without challenging the assumptions of an inherently exploitative mode of society.
To be honest though, I’m not in the mood for a Marxist criticism this morning, so even though the above paragraph is almost certainly true. I’m going to leave that for a while.
I don’t really like stamp collecting, but my work means I come into contact with people who are, and they kind of fascinate me. I actually really enjoy all sorts of geeks. People who know one thing inside out. Just thirst for knowledge but direct it into only a certain flavour.
It remains weird and useless. But so is so much of our lives, so why reject it?
Probably outdoor pursuits are more wholesome. Rambling in countryside, often a sociable pursuit at a leisurely pace, drinking in views with friends, healthy and hearty and pretty, all at once. And Ordnance Survey maps are some of the sexiest pieces of information that civilisation has ever created. (Trust me on that, I’m a professional).
Alternatively, there’s the other thing I spent most of yesterday doing. Video games provide near infinite imaginary worlds to explore. A sense of wonder and exploration can be got by looking at a small colourful square and tapping some plastic apparatus furiously. That’s special, right?
Or if you need your narrative in more culturally classical forms, you can always grab a book off the shelf and drown yourself in that. Briskly lose yourself in the world of someone else’s letters, rearranged on some paper. Again, you organise someone else’s ideas into your brain, and build a world out of it. It’s just less shiny and interactive and more…well, hallucinogenic.
But the best, really? Well. I can’t be bothered to go into love, because it’ll make me sad. So I’m going to end up with my best.
Music wraps my heart in blankets. Dancing and singing around my room. Letting intimate friends I’ve never met fill me with swirling mysteries and alien impressions. I let it lead me up paths and shatter my expectations.
I spend my spare time, wherever possible, exploring landscapes of sounds. I let my heart lift away on other people’s sound boats.
Illustration by Helen