Every year, for several years now, I have grown gourds.
They take up a lot of space, they are a nightmare to weed, and so far I have not actually done anything with the few, small gourds that our short summer has produced. I did intend to use them as craft items, but I haven't. I can make all sorts of excuses why not, but the fact remains, I grow gourds and do nothing useful with them.
You can't eat them. The flowers are pretty but not really exciting. I don't take gourds to shows. Why do I grow gourds?
No real reason at all. I just like growing gourds. The plants grow big and fast and I find that fascinating. So really, all I can say is that I grow gourds for fun. The growing part is the real objective, not the obtaining gourds part.
It is a luxury task. That is to say, I put time and money into it, rather than getting time or money out of it. What I get out of it not only cannot be measured, but is hard to define. And yet in August, I will spend some time every day with my gourds.
Why am I justifying this? Doesn't everyone have something like that? Some people spend far more - money and time - on things they do, with nothing to show for it.
Pretty much everyone does, yes. But it's a curiosity of human nature that while we understand it (because we all do it), we often pour scorn on what others choose to do as their own waste of time.
Well, it's a funny thing, but in our society there is a list of things that it's generally accepted OK to waste large sums of money, and large chunks of time on, and then there are those things that are not on that list. Growing gourds is not on that list. Growing flowers IS. Growing vegetables is on the useful list, so is exempt. Not a waste of time at all.
But it isn't the lack of usefulness that keeps gourds off the SAWOT (Socially Approved Waste Of Time) list. Because people whose garden have no plants at all, just a couple of really big lumps of rock, call it landscaping, and that's on the list. And rocks cost more than gourd seeds, so it's not that either. It's not to do with money.
It's not that it's such a weird thing, There are many weird things on the SAWOT list anyway. Some of them are even harmful to your health. Television being the perfect example for both of these. Watching Duck Dynasty is on the SAWOT list. If anyone can tell me how that is preferable to growing gourds, I'd love to know*.
No, I'll tell you why growing gourds is not on the SAWOT list. It's because that list is created by mob rule.
It's that whole "we are majority, so we say what is and what isn't socially approved". Bully tactics by dint of a twisted sort of democracy.
Gentle friends will say "Hey, you do whatever makes you happy". And they really really mean it. But if you really really interrogated them, they'd confess they don't get it. What's the point? Never mind that in their (created) spare time they collect bugs** or even if they collect bread bag tags.
So here's the definition of understanding.
It's not saying "Whatever makes you happy".
Nor is it even also enjoying a non-SAWOT task, but a different one.
You can only understand, when you share the same non-SAWOT passion.
That's how we are. Let's stop pretending otherwise.
Let's confess that we all think the hobbies of others are nuts. Let's move on past the need to be maintstream, or to care if we aren't. But let's not pretend we get it. We don't. The whole POINT of "each to his own" is that we don't get it, and that it's OK to not get it.
*I confess I haven't watched it, but the synopsis is enough.
** Entomology. Yes, I know. It was already on the geekier end of the SAWOT list anyway, but will probably become roaringly popular after this: