To understand me, you’d have to understand quite a bit about wood.
Life around 2010 for me was mostly about my work and my family. That was all that I thought there was space for. I had just gotten us all moved to Bosnia, and it took about a year of living here to feel like I had any time for myself. Many expat families have an experience similar to ours upon arriving in their new country — several months of mini-crises that seem to take up every available morsel of time, week after week, month after month, until slowly, gradually, we feel we have our bearings and we can begin to make our way through life in a way that somewhat resembles the way we lived back home.
One day my tire would go flat and I would suddenly lose hours finding a replacement. The next, I’d have to go to 10 different government offices in search of the right forms for my visa. My kids would get sick, and suddenly my life would grind to a hault. I would get lost on the way to the Konzum.
Once these crises subsided, I was able to devote myself more completely to my work. But that made me unavailable for my family. So eventually, I scaled back on work and attempted to give more of myself to them. It was hard to find balance.
Then, I discovered my hobby. Over the past 5 years or so, I’ve slowly become engrossed into my hobby of woodworking. What started as a simple weekend project every once in a while has become an ongoing passion, giving me something to wrap my brain around when I’m not at the office — something that requires meaningful thought, but is completely outside of the realm of either my work or my family.
“Woodworking is the one thing in my life that I do, which I do not have to do.”
In other words, woodworking is the one thing in my life that I do, which I do not have to do. I love my work, and I love my family. But when a man’s entire life is completely bound by the urgent needs of others — to the point that he has no creative outlet, no space to be himself completely, no place to tighten his muscles and swing his proverbial axe — life can very easily turn into drudgery, lived in an endless malaise of duty.
I don’t have my life figured out. I haven’t arrived. But life is much more enjoyable than it was, and one of the reasons is the presence of a hobby. It gives me a chance to create and have something that is mine, and it provides a fun way to make things my family can use.
And it’s cheaper than a psychiatrist.