We all need interests and projects that take our minds off weightier concerns. It doesn't matter if the hobby is life changing or interesting to everyone as long as it is something that is enjoyable and uplifting. The "uplifting" aspect is important as there are many pastimes (e.g. porn or gambling) that can lead to a slippery slope. Sometimes our choices shape the pattern of our lives or just get us past road bumps; still others make us more interesting and more interested in what is going on around us.

One of the things my husband, Grit, most enjoys is watching football, especially professional football. Unless he has a particular interest in a team, college games are way too long, in his estimation. Given the opportunity, he will click from game to game all day. It is his only real obsession. Good thing it lasts a mere four or five months and he goes to church at least three hours on Sunday.

His love of the game didn't do much for our only daughter, Melissa, but it got all four of our sons interested. They all played into their college years, although Jim switched to lacrosse and had a great experience.

We never know when something we're interested in will come in handy. Our son Tom wanted to do an anesthesiology residency at Yale University Hospital and was invited to interview. On receiving the letter, he noticed that the names of his three interviewers seemed to be those of two women and one man. He was somewhat concerned about the gender balance, but the one "woman" turned out to be a man named Jan, who was a football aficionado, and the other (real) woman interviewer noticed on Jim's resume that he had worked for our son, Steve's, Forever Young Foundation. In reading his resume, she saw his involvement with Project Smile, which was a pet project of hers, so it became a positive focus of their discussion. By the end of the interviews, Tom felt that his football experience with the bumps and bruises that go along with it and the time working for his older brother had paid off.

A neighbor friend, Trisha Smallwood, became fascinated with rocks when she was a child. Her father took up her interest and together they gathered quite a collection. Whenever they traveled they would add to their cache.

Trish went on to marriage, motherhood and a career, but she continued to scour each place she traveled for new treasures. She even passed on her passion to her husband. The hobby added another dimension to her life.

She is a pretty fascinating person anyway, but when I found this out about her, she became even more interesting to me. Can't wait to see her rock collection.

There is life's truth in the words of poet Hannah Szenes, whose great interest became protecting her fellow Hungarian Jews during World War II. She wrote, "In my life's chain of events nothing was accidental. Everything happened according to an inner need." Her poet's soul gave heart to many and though she died a martyr's death during the war, she left a great legacy of courage along with her poetry.

Seznes could have chosen a safer path, but her life's passion drove her to act. Her story could serve as an example of what anthropologist Loren Eiseley was getting at when he wrote the following parable. (This is my retelling, not an exact version.) As he was walking along the beach one day, Eiseley noticed a small boy picking up starfish and throwing them back into the ocean. After catching up to the boy, he told him what a futile waste of time it was. The young man then threw another one into the sea and said, "It made a difference to that one."

It doesn't matter if we decide to save starfish or want to try ice climbing (not an interest of mine, for sure). If it brings us joy and doesn't require the sacrifice of more important things, then that's what we should be doing.

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