HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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Unfortunately, I sometimes get the impression the feeling is mutual – that technology hates me back.


Case in point: When they first came out with GPS devices, we got one. It worked pretty well getting us around, especially in town, but I discovered its darker side driving along a mountainous Kentucky road one day.


Mountainous terrain can confuse these things, so as I was driving along, the GPS said in its annoyingly soothing voice, “Turn right here.”


The only problem was, had I followed the instructions, I would have taken the car straight over a 90-foot cliff!


“You evil electronic spawn of Satan!” I yelled. “You’re trying to KILL me!”


My other satisfaction in not being burdened with personal devices is a practical one. During my entire career, I was chained to a desk with a phone and a writing device, such as an electric typewriter (in the early years; I used a computer more recently). When it’s time to relax, I want to get AWAY from this stuff, not carry it around in my pocket.


So keep your personal devices, your Linked-in, your Facebook and other forms of social media. I’m perfectly happy in a unique old-timey way, thank you!

IS TECHNOLOGY MY FRIEND?

I have and use Internet access to communicate. I have an e-mail account and I am pretty good at the basics of Photoshop, to the degree I can crop and size photos and even restore some old ones.


I make my own greeting cards, and I am proud to say they’re so personalized friends and relatives actually keep scrapbooks of them.


It really isn’t the basics of using computers that I object to. It’s the personal devices people carry around with them slavishly, allowing them to suck all their attention away, eliminating things such as civil conversations and normal human interaction.


Occasionally my wife, who has a smart phone and is tuned into her Facebook, will try texting a friend and complain about not getting an answer.


My response is always, “Why don’t you pick up the phone and call her like a grownup?”



FRANK KOURT

Frank Kourt is a staff writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine

more articles by Frank Kourt

Lately I have come to the reluctant conclusion that either I was born in the wrong century or I have let technology outpace me.


The smart phones that seemingly everyone carries around not only bedevil but repel me. Only at the urging of my wife, who bought it for me, pays the monthly bill and listens to my rants about the thing do I even have a portable phone, which I refer to as a “Stupid Phone.”


This is your basic flip phone of old, and all it does is make and receive phone calls. Yes, it does have a rudimentary camera and I could, if I wanted to pay additional money for the services, give it the capabilities for texting, hooking up to the Internet and playing video games, but those are the last things I want or need.


I have no Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or other such social media toys, and I’m perfectly content with that.


While others around me are staring vacantly into their phones, maniacally pushing buttons or watching cute kitty videos, I’m content to have normal conversations with any fellow Luddites who may be around or to pick up a real page-and-spine book.


Lest you think these are the typical rantings of an old technophobe curmudgeon, let me assure you I am at least basically computer literate.