Monday, December 23, 2013

For My Enjoyment

An on-line conversation with a writer colleague and friend resulted in this exchange.

Her: I've asked this before, and I will continue to ask this until we make headway. What do you do for enjoyment, just for you? I know you write, walk, play computer games, and you are interested in stocks and family genealogy. Writing is work, even though you enjoy it, and it is a avocation right now. You feel guilty when you play games. Stocks are a financial endeavor and could be work. You don't do your genealogy currently. Walking is a part of a healthy lifestyle. What do you do just for you?

Me: Just for me? I think the endeavor that provides the most enjoyment is genealogy. This combines so much: history, detective work, family, culture, and writing in terms of documenting what you've done. I think that is the thing that combines all that interests me and gives me joy and fulfillment.

Her: Why have you stepped away from it? I know your time is limited, but you enjoy it, and you should spend time dong things just for the sheer joy of it. You have been reading the Carlyle letters. You seemed to have enjoyed that.

Me: While genealogy is at the top of the pyramid, the top is not very pointy. Other endeavors play king of the hill with genealogy, unable to dislodge it, but staying close at hand. Wordsmithing combined with story telling or message making is close, very close.

Me: Reading is close as well. It can be almost anything on the printed page, or a screen that emulates the printed page. The Bible is good; other Christian books are good; novels are good; short stories are good; non-fiction book-length or shorter is good.

Me: So when I do one of these, it's almost—almost—as good as doing genealogy.

Apparently she'd asked this before, and either ducked the question or gave an unsatisfactory answer. So this time she tried to pin me down more. The truth is that this is difficult for me to answer. I don't do many things that I dislike. I don't have a lot of yard work to do, but what I have I enjoy. Clearing dead trees from the un-built lot next to me also brings enjoyment. Even mundane chores around the house give me a sense of fulfillment, of a task accomplished. Doing things around the house never leaves me thinking I wasted my time.

With so many good choices, how do I answer the question "What do you do for enjoyment?" Yes, some of those things are work. Since I'm trying to both reach people and make money from my writing, I suppose you could say it's work, but it's work that is enjoyable. Since trading stocks is a money-making endeavor, you could say it's work. Yet, I enjoy it. Perhaps not the losses that come, but certainly the gains.

Study, through reading, contemplation, meditation, and reasoning is highly enjoyable for me, especially in the Bible and related readings. The "Harmony of the Gospels" that I wrote, which is a non-commercial venture, is among the most enjoyable things I've ever done. It combined study and writing, heaving in research and wordsmithing. While I'd love to figure out how to publish it, I think it will forever remain a study aid for me, and for the few people to whom I've given it.

That brings it down to genealogy. As I said in my reply to my friend, it is perhaps a small notch above other things I do in terms of enjoyment. For the reasons I state in my answer to her. If I didn't need the money, I probably wouldn't mess with stocks, and I might or might not write with the intent of selling. Perhaps I would just pursue genealogy as my enjoyment avenue. But not being independently wealthy, and with genealogy research without cost being limited in what it can do, and having come close to exhausting free sources for the main lines I'm working on, I can't really pursue it a whole lot more.

I could start writing some family histories from the information I have in hand. I've done that with two families in Lynda's lines, and am close to starting one in my paternal line. But all in all it's going to be a while until I get back to much genealogy work.

And that's all right. The things I'm doing now are enjoyable. Even the day job is enjoyable. I would, though, if independently wealthy, or even comfortably prepared, forgo some of the 4 years and 8 days I have left, and spend more times in these other pursuits.


vero said...
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vero said...

I enjoyed this post. It gives me more insight on how you think and your personal values.