It is that painful time of year when I truly reckon with how much of my cash, my time, my talent, and sheer effort I have expended in and on The Theater, and how much I have earned in actual dollars from the pursuit. This year, the contrast is particularly grim, as I have a couple of checks perpetually “in the mail.” So my “real” job, as far as the US Tax Code is concerned, is what I term my “day job,” and my theater work (again, per the tax code) is a hobby.
Theater people are not the only weirdos who spend vast sums of money, time, skill, and effort on pursuits that might (but probably won’t) pay our bills. I found a list of the 25 most expensive hobbies, and we ain’t on it. There’s ice sculpting, sky diving, scuba diving, drag racing, mountain climbing, sailing, poker playing, and international travel on that list. And while you can probably “go pro” in most of these areas, the odds of paying your bills month after year clearly suck.
And yet. We do what we do because we love it. We’re good at what we do because we love it. We study what we do because we love it. Do you have any idea how many magazines are devoted to hobbies in the US? Knitting, every sort of craft, mechanics, collecting, gaming, gardening, fly fishing… People are insane. They work all day and then they enthusiastically devote what’s left of their time and money and skill and effort to doing things they enjoy. They go way past the just-for-fun point and commit serious attention to improvement, attend seminars, take classes, and travel to meet their fellow enthusiasts.
I say, embrace your fellow weirdos in quilting and building motorcycles from kits, rock climbing and philately, scuba diving and painting Easter eggs. One hobbyist to another: we get each other on some level, don’t we? Yeah, you’re obsessed with tropical fish and churn your own butter, but I get it. Gotta hold down a job to pay for that scuba trip or that mountain gear. The job is the job. The tax man gets to rule the job. But it’s crazy wonder and passion that rules the hobby. And that’s worth blowing all your extra cash, your time, your skill, your passion. I love to see that. More of that, please. More crazy, more adventure, more fun. Please.