For all Gloabons, this is going to be a tough one to explain.
Hobbies are very important to humans, but perhaps the greatest distinguishing feature of a hobby is that it must not, in and of itself, be important.
Performing heart surgery could never be described as a hobby, nor could the practice of law, learning, science, industry, technology or art. Indeed, all of mankind’s official professions are excluded from the sphere of hobbies to such a great extent that to describe someone as a hobbyist is to dole out a grievous insult. A ‘hobby farmer’ for instance, is a person, usually a male, who has a small patch of tangled grass and a mildly bewildered goat.
But wait, before you come to the understandable conclusion that hobbies are mere fripperies, I must remind you that these are not simple pastimes but endeavours that are taken extremely seriously. Keen hobbyists will devote large chunks of their lives to the pursuit of their arbitrary goals, spending a significant portion of their incomes in support of their particular passions. Avid collectors of spoons will grow excited as they pore over catalogues of cutlery. Devoted fans of the obsolete internal combustion engine will be only too eager to lie on the floor beneath their chosen vehicles while oily substances trickle down their sleeves. And those who yearn for the disconcerting rhythms of Earth’s ancient musical forms will enter blissful states of altered consciousness as they gather in the semi-darkness, their bodies twitching and jerking in vaguely suggestive spasms of co-ordinated writhing. Yes, you know that of which I speak, and it is not a myth. There still exists on Earth, in the hidden backstreets of many a town and city, those halls of flickering lights known as discotheques.
But I’ve shocked you enough. We shall move on.
While humans labour at their hobbies, a hobby must never be thought of as work. This, I know, will upset many Gloabons. We have adapted ourselves to the pursuit of excellence in the service of our government, and for us, progression up the ladders of our chosen careers is reward enough. Now, it is true that some humans have organised their lives in a similar fashion, so that they have become almost Gloabon-like, but believe it or not, these people are often regarded with suspicion by their peers. Humans who are thoroughly career oriented are often seen as having something missing from their lives, as if they suffer from some kind of defect. Strangely, a top-level executive will be seen as a more acceptable member of society, and dare I say more human, if they allocate part of their week to some purposeless activity at which they do not excel. For example, a human astronaut may command a space station, but he or she will only be recognised for their endeavours if they spend their evenings strumming a guitar or learning to tap dance in zero-G.
Hobbies redefine importance.
As you may know, in my youth I was so interested in my studies of human behaviour that I tried out a hobby of my own, as an experiment in human nature. In the space fleets of our galaxy, there are a great number of vessel registration codes, and I set about collecting the codes of all the vessels I could track from my home. I compiled a large list, carefully categorised according to planet of origin, and even now, I can tell an Andelian vessel from a Kreitian one, just by its code. It was a mundane task, senseless in every way, and eventually, when my hobby attracted the wrong kind of attention from my peers, I abandoned it in favour of a more intense study of advanced spreadsheet functions, which we can all agree was a much better use of my time. Although I must confess that somewhere in my storage unit back on Gloabon, I still have that list stored in my triple-redundancy archive. Perhaps one day, I’ll retrieve it, just to check that it uses the latest code categories. Purely for the purposes of accuracy, you understand. No other reason. None.
But this explanation has gone on long enough, and I must leave you.
In summary, a hobby involves the establishment of an arbitrary set of goals, and while progress is made towards those goals, the ensuing activity must serve no useful purpose. In addition, if reaching those goals involves attaining true mastery of a subject, this disqualifies the participant from the ranks of the hobbyist, and humans will be offended if you confuse the master with the unqualified enthusiast. It seems likely that most hobbies owe their existence to the genetic traits required for the hunter-gatherer phase of human evolution, so perhaps, one day, with the correct type of guidance from us Gloabons, humans may eventually be weaned from their idle pursuits, and they may even be persuaded to focus on the achievement of efficiency and productivity.
Or maybe not.
And when you’ve been on Earth for a while, you’ll see what I mean.
Now, I must get back to watering my indoor pot plants. I have several now, ranging across a number of genera, and I’m thinking of specialising in the non-flowering plants such as ferns and bryophytes. They really are rather fascinating. I must tell you about them some time. If you’re interested, I have a list.
Until next time, take care, and MYSABFL
You may comment below, but any foolishness may well result in you receiving a visit from a member of the Earth Liaison Unit. You have been warned. Thank you.
Be More Gloabon!
Read these posts in a more efficient way
If you'd like to receive a monthly ebook of my collected writings, properly formatted for a more pleasant reading experience, along with selected short fiction from Mr. Campling, support my interplanetary efforts via Patreon.
Join me on a Journey into Books
With my readers' group, The Awkward Squad