I started reading early. Obviously I don't remember, but Mom used to tell the story how I walked up to her when I was almost 4 or some such, with a book in my hand, and asked if the page said what I said it did. She figured I memorized the lines, as she read a lot to me, but even with an unknown book I could read (slowly) what was written.
She always encouraged my reading, and although my parents set boundaries I pretty much blew past those by the time I was 8. They ended up hiding books they deemed inappropriate for me; turns out what they considered inappropriate was a stack of romance pulp, and I was free to explore the Michael Crichton books on the lower shelves at home. Weird choice, but whatever. Eventually I found the romance stuff, recognized how badly written it was, and lost interest. (I was 11.)
My point here is not that I was a special kid. Starting to read early and chewing through the home library fast resulted in two things. One, I was exposed to a wide (and I mean wide) arrange of storytelling from a very young age. Two, by the time I was 10 we've had to start going to the library and/or asking more distant family members to lend us their books. Mom (my father wasn't much of a reader; nor was he particularly interested what I was interested in), while allowing the former, opted for the latter. Which led to my exposure, by way of my uncle, to a set of naval adventure novels by a Hungarian author. (Andras Dekany, for those interested.)
I fell in love.
There are few genres I don't enjoy reading. (The aforementioned pulp romance novelettes definitely make that list.) But there are also a few genres that I enjoy reading more than others. Tastes change, and I can attest to that fact: up until I was in my early twenties I preferred fantasy over science-fiction, and now look at me. But these naval adventures, and just adventures involving ships -- and spaceships, as the amount of naval adventures is sadly limited -- hold a special place in my heart.
I fell in love so much that I legitimately and seriously considered a career as a naval officer. Of course, Hungary being landlocked didn't make that consideration easy, but I was on the verge of applying to a naval academy. I spoke good English even back then, and was poised for adventure, so why not? Health reasons prevented that happening, but the passion remained.
Another recurring character in my life, from an early age, is building things. When you're 4-5-6 years old, that means LEGO. I've had a functional city collected and built by the time I was 12. (We weren't doing too well, financially, but Christmas and birthdays were the main source of getting new sets. Over the years we also trained the extended family to opt for either sets or money so we can buy sets.) If I remember correctly it was Christmas when I was 12 when I got the space station (with the electronic, motorized train). I had a Robin Hood fortress, and stuff I don't even remember.
As I got older, building LEGOs became less cool. (I wasn't as enlightened as I am now about what constitutes "cool." If I was, I'd still have that collection.) But, in parallel with my growing interest in ships, I began building and collecting model ships.
Granted, I wasn't particularly good at it, not having grown into the patience I have today. But still, I was reading up on ships, researching the colors for painting, the rigging so I could swap the plastic "ropes" to real ones, and the other small things you do when you get deeper into a hobby.
I miss having those hobbies.
"Sooner or later..."
This is the first half of the title quote, by the way. (Stephen King, if you didn't know.)
I'm 38 years old. And I came to realize that I have no hobbies anymore. I have passions, for sure. But I don't have the kind of hobbies I had as a kid and as a teenager. Yes, as an adult you have responsibilities, but letting go of those small parts of yourselves is not a good thing.
Especially because I'm built to be a geek and a nerd. I wonder if the kind of directionlessness I've been feeling for as good while now could be, in a small part, attributed to that fact. And so I have decided to remedy that fact. I considered picking up something new, but kept coming back to those old things.
Rekindling old flames of passion is an interesting experience. It not only serves as an outlet, as all hobbies do, but also comes with a healthy seasoning of nostalgia. They're also pretty hard to do. Not just because as an adult you no longer have the same perspective, but also because as an adult you are not longer surprised by many things. That's not to say adults cannot learn new things, we do all the time. But we have a fundamental understanding of how things work and fit together within our world. A kid doesn't. Kids have a wonderful sense of amazement of discovery, that is almost impossible to recapture as an adult. Which can in turn taint the very experience of reliving joyous moments, or doing things that used to create those moments.
As an example, I no longer read with as much wonder as I did when I was young. It's partially also because I'm a writer, and reading is inevitably an analytical exercise for me. Not a conscious one, not always, and I'm not saying that I'm not enjoying reading. But those extra layers, both from adulthood and professional "muscle memory" are always present.
That said, I made a promise to myself to read more, with less practicality and more abandon. And then I recognized that I also needed something that wasn't... useful.
Enter building models again. Not kits, because they're horrible expensive and almost impossible to procure in Iceland. Also I wanted to learn, not just how to assemble and paint a thing, but also how to make it. Luckily it's no longer 1994, and my options are positively endless thanks to 3D printing.
I bought a 3D printer, a Monoprice Voxel, earlier in 2020. Originally I wanted to use it for cosplaying purposes. (I still might. Printing a good quality Iron Man suit is out of my reach for now, though.) But I still printed a bunch of statues, and played around with it here and there. What I'm gearing up to do now, however, will take it to the next level. Fingers crossed.
So that's the story, or stories, behind this latest push of creating distractions for myself. I'm currently printing the opening salvo of the project that'll take, very optimistically, most if not all of 2021 to complete. Working out the kinks, that sort of thing. But this is a story for another time.