I’m a firm believer in the necessity of productive hobbies, particularly for men. I don’t mean to be exclusionary by saying this, or imply it with the title of this blog, but I think “arts and crafts” is a term that is, more often than not, associated with feminine pursuits. It doesn’t exactly bleed masculinity.
And that isn’t right.
Building, crafting, creating. These are not the needs of a particular gender, but fundamental desires of the human condition. Whether it’s building a career or a treehouse, crafting a home-cooked meal or a needlepoint, creating a human life or a mural, there’s undeniable gratification in laboring over something you care about, stepping back, and being able to say, I made this.
This blog is meant to be a collective of hobbies and pastimes for men without. Something that can be read in a spare moment and a reader can walk away thinking, Maybe I’ll try wood carving, or Maybe I’ll tell Dave to give backpacking a shot.
One of the best compliments I’ve ever been given was by the handful of people I’ve met in different contexts who have referred to me as “a renaissance man.” I kind of scoffed at the phrase the first time it was used. But after the second or third, I felt more (but not entirely) comfortable thinking of myself along those terms—hearing it made me puff out my chest a bit, straighten my back. In short, there’s something appealing about being thought of as a Swiss army knife of a human being. Hands down, the most interesting people I have met in my life fit the profile of a renaissance man or woman: they are knowledgeable about a wide variety of subjects, and have interests and hobbies that span a vast spectrum. But these people have been few and far between. I think a representation of the true Renaissance man (and woman) in our modern era is severely lacking.
So do I fit that profile? I’m a devoted father and husband. I’m a high school teacher. I’m a writer. I like to woodwork and carve. I’m an avid backpacker, reader, student of history, and I play a few instruments. I sang in an acapella group in college (I’m a baritone, if you’re wondering). I sketch. I’m a capable handyman, a decent shot with a twelve-gauge, and have a relatively well-developed sense of style. I can hold my own in Jeopardy!, and I keep a skateboard, always, in the trunk of my car.
Do these hobbies, interests, and alone qualify me as a renaissance man? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe I’ll get there one day, maybe I won’t. If I do, I hope you’ll be there too.
Follow the blog. Read, learn, and craft.