The New York Times recently ran an article on what it means to have hobbies. The article quoted a British professor who studies this kind of thing: “By viewing work as something we do to support our leisure time, rather than our hobbies as something to lower our stress so we can get back to work, we can actually start enjoying our lives.”
Radical idea, huh? It takes a lot of what I learned near the beginning of my working life and turns it on its head.
There was an idea going around back then that work was where women would find not only the means to pay the rent but also fulfillment. Climbing that corporate ladder in our skirt suits and heels and scarves tied into bows was the royal road to…fulfillment!
And I bought it. I threw myself into my job. Everything I did, I did for work. If I wasn’t in the office, I was on call! I was so darned dedicated. I should have been just rolling in that sweet fulfillment, right?
Except I wasn’t. After a few years, I was exhausted, stressed out and lonely. I hadn’t found anything like fulfillment.
What to do? I made a deliberate choice to start paying attention to my actual life–my soul. There was a church near my office that offered short weekday services every half-hour all day long, and I started dropping in every so often just to soak up the peace and quiet for a while.
Work is only part of life. It’s in the other parts of life–family (human and otherwise), friends, parish life, home–and hobbies!–where we really find fulfillment.
Work is only part of life
That half-hour every once in a while led to more. Before long, I joined a parish that nourished my soul with the beauty of its worship and the warmth of its community life. I found my voice with that church’s choir and soon started the career change that eventually led me to Women of the ELCA.
So now, years later, I still work for Women of the ELCA. Satisfying as that work is, it isn’t the most important part of my life. It’s contributed to my life, of course, with relationships that have lasted years, the opportunity to dig into scripture in community, and so much more.
It took me years to figure out what the professor up top said in one sentence. Work is only part of life. It’s in the other parts of life–family (human and otherwise), friends, parish life, home–and hobbies!–where we really find fulfillment.
Audrey Novak Riley works as director for stewardship for Women of the ELCA on weekdays. The rest of the time she is an amateur singer, guitarist, knitter, crocheter, gardener, baseball fan, book lover, art appreciator, opera goer…and more.