Do you have a hobby? If not, you should try investing some time in whimsey. I like to think of hobbies as moments spent doing nothing particularly important, and there are important reasons why this matters.
If you are an adult, chances are you spend a lot of your waking energy on deliverables. These are things you owe other people, the paperwork of life. No one likes doing their taxes for example. But try NOT doing them for a few years and see how that goes. If you mess up on your deliverables, bad things will happen. Stark realities like these can suck away all your good energy.
That is why it is good to spend some time doing some things which are not particularly important at all. If you mess them up, it won’t matter, and if you don’t get them done on a schedule, no one will care. You are off the clock. Things which are not particularly important are a God-send.
My mother was a puzzle in this regard. Although very busy tending to a large family, she also had hobbies. She used to sew, and she used to garden. I can recall many evenings after the day’s work was done, her sewing machine would be humming late into the night because she had volunteered to make bridesmaid dresses for someone’s wedding. Similarly, one summer she rented a farmer’s field and spent countless hours tilling the soil, weeding in the hot sun, and reaping a bountiful harvest, only to give it away to the neighbours. I was scratching my head at that point. Why compound matters if you are already busy?
It all comes down to what you are focused on in life. Look at people who spend way too much time on the important things and you will start to understand. They become drained and dissipated in middle age. They turn to alcohol or other vices. They have affairs, perhaps because they lack beauty in their own lives. What they may need most are those things which are not particularly important at all.
Whimsey is a tonic. We send our dreams out into the world like children in search of beauty or the joy that comes with creating something. I am constantly amazed, that when I spend a day in the shop, my cares drift away. I am focused on something altogether different, and end the day perfectly tired yet suffused with happy energy. You sleep really well those nights, not because your body is worn out, but because you have exercised your soul. Hobbies are the stuff of endless possibility; they are wishes which could come true someday. They are therefore oddly related to faith. You don’t exactly know yet what will be, but seeing it in your mind’s eye makes it possible.
A funny story from real life. We once had a fire in our basement. Afterwards, my Dad was concerned that the clutter in the room was an ongoing fire hazard. One culprit was the many bags of sewing scraps. My mom would sew, have a piece left over, and save it. It could someday become a hair ribbon or a patch in jeans. It could be a square in a new quilt. Hence, no scrap was ever thrown away. The bags of scraps just grew and grew. Coincidentally, my mom was at that time away in Calgary visiting her own mom. My dad and I went through the bags of scraps and threw away the smaller stuff. We thought ourselves merciful when we reduced the bags of scraps by half and kept the rest.
Then my mother came home. For a person who was quite mind to mouth, the idea of NOT talking to someone never occurred to her. And yet, she was so angry, she did not talk to my dad or myself for an entire month. It was an awkward time, slinking around and feeling the full weight of perdition. We had dared to mess with her whimsey.
Much later on when my mom died, we had the same job, to dispose of endless bags of scraps. It occurred to me what a God-send the scrap bags must have been. In a tough life, they were the stuff of endless possibility. They allowed some sweetness to creep in beyond the worries of the day.
It could be that whimsey is the thing you and I need most in a world full of draining realities. It gives us oxygen to move forward for today. Whimsey might also be called hope, and hope is magical. That is why I will throw my lot in with things which are not particularly important any day. Why? Because they are not particularly important. And therein lies the beauty.