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Many years ago, when the boys were little, they loved watching the Wind in the Willows television series. Pete and I did too – the humour was dry and subtly tongue-in-cheek, with priceless lines like…“Badger, if I stop hammering, Toad won’t have a gondola..”
In one scene, Toad’s eyes glaze over as he becomes entranced with a new obsession, and Badger deadpans to Rat and Mole, “I fear, my friends, another enthusiasm..”
That line has become a standing joke in our house – when I get excited about something (which happens often, as you might have noticed), Pete refers to it as a new enthusiasm.
I don’t mind at all, because I believe that actively seeking enthusiasms – finding things which interest us passionately – is one of the great secrets to lifelong happiness. We encourage it as much as we can in our sons, and all four of us have our own areas of interest. Amongst other things, Pete finds enormous pleasure in the garden and his fish tank (which is currently being overhauled) and Big Boy continues to write prolifically (if you’d like to read one of his very early works, the link is here, and the password is “story”).
I bounce between experimenting in the kitchen to birdwatching to visiting museums to jewellery making to hunting down clay pots. I collect cowboy boots, obsess over Turkish plates and explore new culinary cuisines. We don’t travel much, but we do visit the world via our dining room table…
My latest enthusiasm is American-style BBQ – ironic really, given that we don’t even own a barbecue – but I love the hype and excitement around it, so I’m madly reading books and watching BBQ Pitmasters. I’m mixing up spice rubs and trying to replicate results using my Römertopf – it’s enormous fun even though I know the finished dish can’t possibly be authentic (Pete has drawn the line at buying a $10K barbecue “pit” – we play financial controller on each others’ hobbies).
I pull the pots out of the oven and critique them in my best Myron Mixon Southern drawl – “hmmm…can’t see a smoke ring on this ‘ere piece o’ butt..”
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In our family though, the title of King of Enthusiasms belongs to Small Man, whose interests over the years have included passionate studies in card magic, voice acting, chemistry, 1950s films, grey wolves and now linguistics (to name but a few). He’s currently teaching himself foreign national anthems and belting them out at the top of his lungs in the shower (I can’t begin to tell you how much I adore that boy).
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As Pete and I enter our fifties, we’ve noticed that amongst our peer group, those who have hobbies and pastimes that they pursue with great passion are undoubtedly the happiest.
Our lovely neighbour and friend Nic, who began weaving just a few years ago, has become an accomplished artist, with her woven natural fibre pieces now on display in several galleries. You can view more of her works on her Instagram feed…
Nic’s husband PeteV, a successful lawyer, is currently completing his Masters in Astronomy. He takes the most incredible deep space photos…
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I’ve just read the draft of this post to Pete and he offered this: it takes a certain outlook on life, a way of viewing the world with an open mind and excited eyes, to be able to seek out and explore all the wondrousness that life has to offer. Many people automatically dismiss anything they regard as trivial or wasteful or childish or unimportant. Which is a great shame, as it means they might not get to have the wonderfully bizarre dinner conversations with their children that we enjoy with ours!
What are your enthusiasms? I’d love to hear about them!