Oscar Wilde once said, “Only boring people are ever bored.” As with so much of his work, this statement cuts right to heart of a dilemma many modern men face — what to do with their time when funds are limited. If you only think inside the box of life experience you’ve already gained, you may be at something of a loss as to how best to answer this question. However, when you view life as a constantly evolving exploration of the world, it opens up seemingly endless possibilities.
One thing to keep in mind, Gentlemen, is that no experience is wasted or wrong. What you must do is constantly challenge yourself to learn new things, improve existing skills, and, above all, engage as fully as possible with your world. When you take this approach, there will never be another boring moment. As well, it’s part of the process that makes you a fascinating human being, a truly manly and complex individual that everyone will want to get to know.
Cooking & Grilling
Being able to feed yourself well is a basic part of self-sufficiency, guys. Moreover, when you learn how things go together, and how to create a perfect meal from scratch, you make yourself an asset in any hungry situation.
This is an adventure in chemistry and physics that will teach you how to craft a product you want through empirical experimentation — trial and error — and help you to explore new and creative techniques. It requires relatively few pieces of equipment, and the startup knowledge can be found for free. All you really need is time and some enthusiastic friends to play guinea pigs during the process of technique refinement.
You can kit yourself out for about $10, and then head for the nearest warm and sandy spot — preferably in clear waters like the Gulf of Mexico. This is part of experiencing the world directly. Even though we’ve seen plenty of crystal clear water in the movies and on television, actually swimming next to a sea turtle is a life-changing experience. There is so much to be seen that cannot be truly understood until it is experienced. So get out there and start experiencing.
Classic Car Restoration
A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Restoring a classic piece of fine machinery is a labor of love, sweat, and research. You’ll learn how to source quality parts for your baby, and how to install them — from the body to the minutest internal components. It will require patience and a bit of money if you want to do it yourself, but another great, and often free way to experience this hobby is to work with someone who already does it.
There’s nothing more stimulating or masculine than pitting your wits against adversity, especially in the absence of modern conveniences. Learning survival skills will enable you to assess problems in every aspect of modern life and plot workable solutions. As well, with survival training, there is no buck-passing. You are ultimately responsible for your actions and their consequences, even if they are spurred by uncontrollable circumstances. Now, that’s Manly. Skill level: Marcus Aurelius.
Cycling and Mountain Biking
Whether it’s on the trail or in the bike lane, cycling is a fantastic way to see the world through which you move in clearer detail than driving affords. As well, you’ll improve your health and your ability to assess upcoming obstacles. Go ahead and invest in a good cycle and safety gear. You won’t regret the purchase.
Few hobbies will acquaint you with beauty more thoroughly than this one, both that which is apparent and that which hides beneath the surface of the banal or the ugly. By learning this skill, you’ll hone your eye for composition of elements, and notice the surprising, the striking, and the exquisite faces of the world wherever you go.
All disciplines represent the of focus and control of applied force. Martial arts also train you to understand how bodies move through space, how to understand your opponents, and how to respect both yourself and others. Engaging in any of the many offered disciplines will improve you both as a man and as a part of the human community.
Possessing skill in making weaponry enhances your understanding of its weaknesses and how to repair damage, when possible. While this skill will give you a healthy respect for the damage such weapons can do, you will also know that if you are ever stranded, you can create the means of your survival through tool making. If this interests you, also investigate flint knapping which is the way all stone tools and weapons are made. It’s one of the oldest technological skills possessed by our species.
Believe it or not, this is one of the aspects of the Barbering art, and it requires great skill. Unlike our modern ritual of slathering on chemical foam and dragging a disposable razor sloppily over our face, this involves fine razors, soap, shaving bowls and brushes, and the application of steam to soften the skin and hair. It has all the formality of the ancient Japanese Tea Ceremony, and is a major component of Suavity.
Beyond the Friday night at the bar with the guys, learning how to play darts is a great hobby. That’s because it teaches you to hit a target for which you aim. It also drives home that precision trumps force nine times out of ten; a lesson that many guys could stand to learn if they haven’t already.
Sailing and Canoeing
This is yet another fantastic way to change how you view the world. Both sailing and canoeing teach you to interpret movement in a novel environment — on the water — and react with precision and assertiveness in the case of an emergency. That’s because, when you’re in any watercraft, you are dealing with novel physics, and understanding them intimately is crucial in order to prevent minor accidents from becoming serious.
Speaking of novel physics, did you know air is considered a fluid? It reacts very much in the way a body of water does. Learning to fly, even small craft, will enhance your ability to interpret and react correctly in response to circumstances. This is a fabulous skill to cultivate, even if you have a “drinking problem” and your name is “Striker”.
Carl Sagan. Do I need to say more? Be amazed. Be constantly aware of all the wonder there is, just beyond this pale blue dot of our planet. It will enhance your compassion for your fellow humans and make you a better person, too. I promise.
Technically both Scotch and Bourbon are also Whiskey, so cultivate a palate to discern the fine distinctions in flavor and subtle notes that dictate where your liquor has been. This is an interesting field not unlike wine tasting, but it definitely has a more traditionally masculine appeal.
This is a game not unlike chess, but involving the application of physics: Force, spin, inertia, interference. If you cultivate this hobby, you’ll be a veritable Einstein of the tables. It won’t stay confined to the fuzzy green surface of that table either. You’ll begin to see the same forces at work everywhere in your world.
Much like restoring classic cars, this hobby requires patience, sweat, skill, and research. But a beautifully restored classic bike is heartswelling to behold, especially when you know you rebuilt it.
Poker and Cards
This and other card games are a great way to be social and also enhance your risk-benefit assessment skills, and learn to read other human’s non-verbal communications. So get the guys together for an old-fashioned poker night once a week. If you gain proficiency, you might try making a bit of cash at sanctioned gambling venues.
We’ve covered how we’re all musical creatures, so why not try your hand at learning an instrument? The guitar is an excellent one with which to begin, because you can buy one cheaply, largely teach yourself the basics, and it can go anywhere you do.
While many may scorn golf as a sport, imagine trying to put a pea through the mouth of a soda can at 100 paces. Get the point? Golf is a fantastic way to get a lot of fresh air and exercise. However, to gain skill at this sport, you need to work on developing your spatial reasoning skills, as well as understanding how things like wind impact the trajectory of your ball. In the process, you’ll learn the proper posture and form of a great swing — which is part of conditioning your body to act with precision and power on demand.
This is both a sport and a great way to be out of doors. Fishing involves an understanding of your intended prey, and how to lure and draw them in. This incorporates concepts of ecology, physics, and animal psychology. More than that, it gives you time to simply be still, which is a skill that many Westerners have all but lost.
This can be a wonderful way to socialize. Much like wine and whisky tasting, it involves becoming sensitive to the differences in tobacco curing process, and even the wrapping materials.
Much like masonry, woodworking relies on a developed skill for seeing underlying patterns of stress or growth within the medium. Because wood has greater plasticity and is more easily procured than blocks of stone, you might enjoy this particular hobby more, while still gaining the valuable skill of seeing deeply into the nature of things.
It’s said that one week in the wilderness will help you to completely reset your circadian rhythms. Getting out into the great outdoors has also been shown to help clinical depression, simply by walking through a pine forest. Camping gives you healthy exercise, a chance to disconnect from the world of instant access via the phone and the computer, and lets you focus on more important things, like your state of mind or the nature of true happiness.
If you want the ultimate challenge of the Self, take up rock climbing, repelling, and other similar sports. While this hobby will require some investment of capital, because you must ensure your safety with proper gear and training, rock climbing teach you to actively evaluate your immediate environment, focus on details, and plan your moments. It’s always a rush to feel you’ve succeeded and to know every inch of the rock face you just climbed with every sense you possess.