Friday, 3 April 2015

Glazed eyeballs and hobbies

Exercise the Eighth: Everyone has a passion – something that they enjoy, whether it’s yoga, obscure vinyl, or search engine optimization. (Or even coaching & mentoring new writers!) In other words, there is something out there that causes your character to wax passionate in the face of glazed eyeballs, awkward coughing, or even straight out door dashing. Let us know what that is.

This topic caused me to ponder my hobbies, and deep interests over the years. I was struck not so much by something that has stayed as a deep passion, but rather how many hobbies I have had, and how my approach to them evolved.

My first hobby was collecting stamps, I can still picture the album I got as a Christmas/birthday gift (more on the inequities of THAT at another time) with its pages dedicated to various countries around the world, and grey scale images of stamps to find and place in their own spot. I lived in a very small town and finding stamps was not easy. When we made the trip into the big city, a special treat was buying a small muslin bag of mixed world stamps at the Sears department store. I remember once we were home the excitement of dumping them on the kitchen table, and sorting through the brightly colored and exotic images from all over.

My album beside me, I would attempt to match the stamps to the missing spaces in my album, often puzzled by the name of the country. Really Switzerland; Helvetia? What is that all about? Greece; Hellas? Huh? But through this process I began to see some of the history of the countries, images of important people from the past and present, I learned about special occasions they commemorated, saw pictures of beautiful places, statues, art and sometimes just the commonplace, such as industry or agriculture.

I knew through my research that one of the most valuable stamps sought at the time was the British penny black, the first self-adhesive stamp to be used in general postal service starting in 1840. I do not recall the value of one at the time, but there was space in the album for one, and I would faithfully search each bag of stamps in hopes of finding this rarity. Had I, then a decision would be forced upon me. Do I put a stamp hinge on it, and place it in its spot in the album, or would I sell it, and retire with unthinkable sums of money (at least unthinkable in terms of an eight year old, in 1959.) This would have tasked the wisdom of Solomon.

My original album was a scribbler style binding, stapled at its center. This soon became full and I progressed to a larger album, with extra posts that allowed extra sheets to be added in order to expand. The original collection migrated from the old album to the new binder. I would carry this to swap meets with my friends, we would go through each others surplus stamps, and barter furiously for a prized specimen.

That album is still in my possession, tucked away in a box in storage, I looked at it just recently as we were moving items out of the way to do renovations in the house. I briefly flipped through the pages, and basked in the recollections some of the stamps brought to me.

Over the years my interests moved away from stamps, and I collected many other types of things, books and cameras being the most prevalent, but there is a soft spot in me still for my old stamp album.

© 2015 NoelHC

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