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As connoisseurs of history, we sometimes find styles, habits and turns of phrase from the past that we wouldn’t mind bringing back to the present, Doc Brown-style. This time around, we’re dusting off the hobby.

You can’t be amazing at everything.

You tried, sure, but part of moving into the adult world means leaving behind some skills to focus on a single area of expertise—ideally, one related to gainful employment. All the other stuff becomes more personal and less intense, with lower stakes and smaller rewards. In short, a hobby.

Or at least that’s how it used to work.

But as people are fond of saying (usually on the internet), the internet’s changed all that. There’s a whole flock of workers splitting their time between designing t-shirts, working as a freelance cellist and hustling bike rallies. Even for full-timers, a “hobby” of learning Final Cut Pro can seem a lot more tempting than putting ships in bottles. If you’re not making any money off it, what’s the point? Hobbies are more professionalized, professions are more hobbylike, and the idea of old-fashioned leisure is getting crowded out.

So at the risk of knocking the hustle, we’d like to roll back the clock to an era of aimless pursuits. We’re thinking of model trains, whittling and intricate genealogy charts. Build a canoe. Just don’t sell the canoe—and, if possible, restrain yourself for tweeting about it. You’re doing this for yourself, not for your career, your reputation or your personal branding. Once you’ve got the ground rules down, you might start to enjoy yourself.

Although we hear there’s good money in model ships.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom