Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Why do we wander?

Why do we wander? I ask... what makes us go out and hike on trails. What pushes us to take our bike and roam on wild paths? What inspires us to take a raft and drift down wild white water? What makes us go out and gaze at the stars at odd times in the night? Why do we pursue the numerous hobbies that we do? What drives us....

My wife and I had gone to the Banff National Film Festival world tour this Sunday. We saw these amazing movies of people pursuing a variety of adventure climbers...bikers...hikers...white water enthusiasts...all kinds. It was really really fun to learn about all these sports... I would surely like enjoy some of them myself.

I have been trying to pursue a couple of hobbies myself for quiet some time now. I have been trying to learn photography. I have been trying to pursue astronomy. I want to hike regularly (even in winter snow if possible). What I have learned is pursuing any hobby.... not just an adventure sport... but any activity where you have to spend some time regularly...learning... practicing and enjoying something apart from your work...needs quiet a lot of discipline. Many of us have passions... likes and dislikes. But often we fail at turning that passion into a hobby. To do that you need discipline.

Most of my hobbies started with trekking or hiking I guess. I started going on small hikes with a handful of school friends. I guess the start was small bicycle trips to Kedya's farm house in Amanapur which is a small village near Kirloskarwadi - the town where I grew up. Then followed bicycle trips to Sagareshwar - a small animal sanctuary and temple near Kirloskarwadi. Then hikes to Machindragad (a small fort on a hilltop), Sajjangad, Chafal and Pali... all under the guidance of Gole doctor who used to hike a lot himself. Then while I was doing my undergrad in Pune I went to a lot of treks in the Sahyadris. Rajgad, Torana, Raigad, Sinhagad, Shivthar-ghal, Ram-ghal, Bhairavgad, Dhak, Harishchandragad, Lohagad... all of these forts and places in the Sahyadris are amazing places to hike. That somehow instilled the love for outdoors... a passion to be in the wild I guess. The love for adventure sports has come from these small wanderings in the beginning. So has the love for photography.

Astronomy is something that goes back again to childhood. There used to be these book exhibitions in Kirloskarwadi and my parents always encouraged reading.... so they bought us a lot of books. (Thats how the love of books has come along I guess....that plus the fact that there was no TV till I was in the 5th grade). I remember I had a book called "Nilae Aakaasha" (The blue sky) by Bhalba Kelkar I think. It had all sort of information about the Solar system, the galaxies and other astronomical phenomenon. Then my uncle used to give me one volume for "children's knowledge bank" every birthday. That too had a lot of information about astronomy. My father bought a lot of books from NavKarnataka bookstore in Banglore where he used to go often for work. I used to go to our school playground and look at the sky and try to recognize the constellations. That somehow fell back when I was in Pune. Now I am trying to revive it again

I guess the passion or liking for something is just a seed. The hobby is like a plant... it has to be watered and nurtured and cared for. Otherwise it won't grow. I don't think watching TV is a hobby....or for that matter any activity in which you don't have to use your mind and energy to do something creative or instructive can't be called a hobby. But what does a hobby do for us really? Why do some people pursue hobbies and some don't? Hobbies satisfy creative urge....they satisfy wanderlust...they enrich a mind...they give us a break from routine...ah! break from routine!!

Here is a chicken or egg question... Did the hobby come first or the routine? To pursue any hobby seriously you need to have discipline which means you ought to have a well defined routine. Then your hobby can become a welcome break from that routine. However my contention is that our need and desire to pursue the hobby drives us to enforce a certain discipline on ourselves....and thus forces us to create a routine... from which the hobby can be a welcome break. There are in fact people who have infact turned this paradigm inside out and made their hobbies a source of income and a full time activity. This does not happen with everyone of course. For most of us the routine comes first...our inspiration for work comes from things other than our hobby or passion. But imagine how great it would be if we could also say.... I work eight hours a day so that I can pursue my hobby for the rest of the day...

Won't it be great to say... "I work so that I can wander."

(from Life Is Good)

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