I like the word “eclectic.” It is a term that speaks to my life and lifestyle. My interests have always been quite varied, although they have somewhat contracted as I’ve grown older.
I cannot claim to be among the most eclectic of people, but I’m definitely not parochial. I consider myself to be moderately eclectic. That probably describes a large percentage of the world’s population. I find the description applies equally well to my life as a whole, and to specific areas of my interests, that is, on both the macro and micro levels.
One of my hobbies is collecting and enjoying movies. I am not a movie connoisseur. I do not analyze movies; I do not critique them. I simply enjoy watching them. Many movie genres interest me, but not all types. I do not watch movies for “deep meanings,” or for dramatic ingenuity, or for many other reasons. I watch movies for entertainment. If I’m not entertained by a movie, I don’t watch it again; if I had a good experience while watching it, I may watch it many more times. I have no interest in foreign films; they require too much work on my part to “appreciate” them. I don’t care about cinematic “appreciation.” I care about light entertainment in a movie. A wide variety of movie types do entertain me – comedies, adventures, action, musicals, dramas, war movies, romances, westerns, mysteries, spoofs, and some fantasies, science fiction, and thriller movies. Horror movies don’t appeal to me. The movies I enjoy generally have good writing, good dialog, reasonably good acting, good photography, good editing, and good music. As far as the story goes, I’m not interested in depressing storylines or absolute realism, nor do I particularly care for tear-jerkers. I like shallow, light, and easy-to-understand stories. I am occasionally interested in documentaries. Movies with internal inconsistencies, lots of digressions, heavy symbolism, confusing images, or difficult-to-understand dialog turn me off quickly. Very few movies which have won the Best Picture Academy Award in the past few decades interest me, although a number of such movies produced during the years 1940-1970 are entertaining to me. Most of my favorite movies were made in the 1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s, plus a small number of those released since then. I have many favorite movie actors, but I do not automatically like every movie any single actor has made. My interest in movies is moderately eclectic.
Another hobby of mine is reading books. I enjoy science fiction, some fantasy, mysteries, history, military history, some biographies, and a few other types of non-fiction books. I do not read them for their literary value or shock value; I read them for entertainment. Although many of my favorite books, stories, and poems are praised for their literary value, that fact is not the reason I like them. I have some favorite fiction and non-fiction writers. I have read books by very few authors who have not disappointed me with one book or another, even though I was engrossed by others they wrote. I have a degree in English, but I no longer enjoy critiquing books. I read them for their entertainment value. My interest in books is moderately eclectic.
One of my hobbies is cooking (and eating). I like to prepare and eat American, Mexican, Italian, and Chinese foods. I am not a gourmet; I do not claim an “educated palate;” and I do not attempt to prepare strictly-authentic ethnic foods. I do not care much for French food, but do like a few dishes derived from the German culture. I do not drink alcohol in any form, primarily because I never developed a taste for it. I like to smell coffee brewing, but cannot swallow it without gagging. I like both hot and iced tea. I like virtually every soda flavor and brand I’ve ever tasted. I like a very wide variety of meats, vegetables, and fruits, and I enjoy the use of many different spices and condiments. I like desserts, but can eat meals for weeks without including a dessert. I do not eat a lot of bread, but love almost all types of pasta. I snack a lot at night on pretzel sticks, pistachios, sunflower seeds, a variety of crackers, cheese, beef jerky, celery, chips, salsa, and some candy. Fortunately, I have a metabolism, digestive system, and lifestyle that allow me to eat everything I like and as much of it as I wish, although I do take medical prescriptions for cholesterol and acid reflux control. My weight is stable and in good ratio to my height. My only medically-suggested food restriction is drinking skim (nonfat) milk to help control my cholesterol. I like casseroles, soups, salads, stir-fried, steamed, grilled, baked, roasted, broiled, boiled, fried, sautéed, frozen, refrigerated, and micro-waved foods, as well as many fruits and vegetables eaten raw. I have never developed a taste for sushi. My wife and I generally eat a decent breakfast and lunch, but rarely have an evening meal. My food interests are moderately eclectic.
I enjoy playing card games and boardgames with my family. I am partial to Euro-games, and am bored by typical American roll-and-move or trivia games. I like card games with bidding, trick-taking, and some set collection. I do not gamble, and have no interest in watching or playing Texas Hold ‘Em or other poker games. I played wargames and video games when I was younger, but prefer family games these days. I never developed an interest in role-playing games or miniatures. Some boardgame themes interest me, while others turn me off. There are about 100 games in my collection at this time, but only about 15-20 different ones are played by us each year. My interest in games is moderately eclectic.
I like a wide variety of music. I enjoy listening to all the types of music in our CD collection, including: easy listening, new age, classical, jazz, movie themes, rock-and-roll, folk, TV show themes, popular music from the ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, big bands, famous marches, country, western/cowboy, and Broadway show music. I enjoy percussion specialty music, guitar, piano, and CDs of wildlife sounds mixed with quiet background music. I like to listen to my one CD of didgeridoo music and one of Moroccan music. I’m surprised to realize I don’t own any CDs of bluegrass, because I do enjoy some of it. I have never cared for opera, rap, hard rock, or many current popular styles. My music interests are moderately eclectic.
In my lifetime, I have been mildly-to-intensely interested in (and delved into) the following subjects and areas of life: sciences of all types (I also have a degree in geology), literature, sports, camping, cooking, gaming, movies, music, religion, history, language, stage acting, magic illusions, travel, writing, public speaking, photography, fishing, computing, computer programming, developing and teaching adult classes, mineral collecting, management, gardening, puzzles, genealogy, cryptography, and others I can’t recall at this time. I am not an expert (or anywhere near that level) in any of these areas, but I know at least a little bit about all of them (in some cases, just enough to be dangerous). My involvement in some of them has been only cursory or limited, while I have been heavily involved with others. I have visited many U.S. states, but not all of them (I’ve been to every state west of the Mississippi River, except North Dakota, and to quite a few east of the Big Muddy; I’ve been to Alaska and Hawaii). I am not a world traveler; my only trips outside the United States have been two very short excursions to Canada and Mexico. Before the age of three, I almost died of asthma; I came close to drowning once as a teenager; and I survived unscathed an auto roll-over accident as an adult in the days before seat belts or shoulder straps. I have never used tobacco or recreational drugs in any form. My life interests and experiences have been moderately eclectic.
There have been times when I wished I had developed a keen enough interest in two or three areas of life on which to concentrate my efforts and intellect, with the result of being considered “an expert” in them. My interests have always been too varied to allow that. There are individuals who have become experts or near-experts in a variety of fields, but I’m not capable of that. Instead, I have enjoyed life very much, pursuing whatever subject struck my fancy at any particular time, spending more time, money, and energy on some than others. There are many subjects and activities that I would have liked to pursue, but did not have the time, resources, or ability to do so. It has been an enriching lifestyle, and I believe I am happy in my life now because of it. I have no real regrets from living a moderately eclectic life.