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Develop Consuming Interests. . .

Yours truly on the bike for the first time in over five years, and the first ride with my wife the Grand Duchess since April 2009.  The three of us hit the road for a 20-mile ride yesterday afternoon with a picnic lunch at the halfway point, a small state park where the Young Master was able to run around and play for a while before climbing back into his Burley trailer for the trip home.

On the way home from our family cycling tour yesterday afternoon, it occurred to me that it is important for an average guy working to kick up his everyday style to cultivate a few interests that can be shared fairly easily with others.  Sure, it's great to have various solitary pursuits.  I have many, painting and collecting toy soldiers among them.  But solitary pursuits like that become a problem once someone special enters the picture.  

With apologies to Neil Diamond, you want some things that you can share and enjoy together.   As my foresighted mother once observed many years ago, "You're not going to find many interesting or well adjusted girls, and one day young women [a few do exist, to be fair, but they are very thin on the ground], who want to hear about Dungeons & Dragons or shortwave radio for more than a few moments."


The Grand Duchess and Young Master at the conclusion of Saturday's ride.  Sigh.  Like father, like son.  He simply would not look at the camera and smile a normal smile without making some kind of funny face.


With that nugget of parental wisdom in mind, it's a good idea to find a few thing to do in your free time that others might enjoy too, and which you (hopefully) will be able to enjoy together.   You know, things like hiking, cycling, camping, skiing, sailing, or horseback riding for example. . .   or, when it's raining or too cold, books, boardgames, playing cards, cooking, antiques, current events and politics, learning another language, or simply the lost art of conversation.  

Additional interests that are easy for others to tag along and enjoy themselves might include things like gardening, visits to art museums, or, when the funds are available, travel.  Hopefully that will be international in nature.  But the list of possibilities is vast of course.  And if you're lucky, a few of those cultivated interests will flower and become life-long pursuits.   


Enjoying a day of pre-Christmas skiing in Wisconsin during mid-December 2008 (before our son arrived in late October of '09) .


Before anyone misinterprets what I mean, however, I am most definitely NOT talking about watching TV sports chronically and habitually (as fun as that can sometimes be), or routine games of Magic the Gathering at the local gaming shop.  Both might provide for hours of fun and wackiness with "da boys," but they are also a bit too easy to fall back on and a little overdone if we are honest with ourselves.  

Better to avoid that particular rut and use your imagination instead to develop different interests that will add not only to your quality of life, but also help you to become a more interesting and well-rounded individual.  Consuming interests that you share will also provide ample fodder for interesting conversation and reminiscing with that special someone in the years to come.  Endless monologues about pro sports statistics and fantasy football leagues at the breakfast table, on the other hand, almost always fall short after a very short while. 
 

Finally, who is this smug doofus in the t-shirt?  Just yours truly fooling around in the backyard on the afternoon of July 4th this year before changing into another shirt before our company arrived.


And what about travel?  Sorry, guys.  Obvious and popular destinations like Cancun, Cozumel, Las Vegas, and Hawaii don't count exactly.  Sure, you've got to fly there.  And they might seem nice enough in the travel agent brochures and via national tourist board websites if you like throngs of badly behaved, sunburned tourists and over-priced, tacky mall culture.  But you haven't really left home either, have you?  

Staying drunk, or stoned and passed out on the beach, or camped out day after day in front of the slot machines in areas where everyone speaks English -- unless it's time for the all-you-can-eat freshly frozen seafood buffet for just US$5.99-- is hardly an interesting way to spend vacation time, now is it?  Behaving like you are an overgrown college kid on perpetual Spring Break is, likewise, unappealing in the extreme once your college years are behind you.  

Nope.  It's far preferable to step outside your comfort zone, and strive for something a little less predictable, off the beaten path, more adult in scope, and a bit more interesting.  You'll thank yourself later.   As will the family and friends you regale forever after, at least as long as they sit still for it, with tales of your adventures.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

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