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Margaret's Musings: Comfort in today's uncertain times

There is a phenomenon that is prevalent more in the United States than many other countries in the world. It is the pursuit of leisure time activities. Granted with the recession and slow recovery, many have had to cut back on those activities or eliminate them completely, however, the purpose of this column is to casually look at the benefits of having a pursuit outside of other areas of your life.

I have written in the past, about my interest in canines and about attending once a year a national specialty show where people gather from coast to coast.

Now, you can substitute nearly any hobby -- golf, quilting, gourmet cooking, gardening, book clubs, photography, auto racing, horse showing, hunting -- the list is truly endless. And in today's digital media age, there is a whole word of interactivity on the net that is beyond my experience. Family members hop on line and play everything from Scrabble to Halo with people thousands of miles away.

There is a certain comfort in knowing that whatever your interest, you will find yourself in the company of friends, sharing a common pursuit, whether it is in the real world or in the virtual world.

We recently attended a set of shows in Duluth, where even though we all see each other regularly at training, coffee, or getting together for lunch or a movie while we are at home in the metro area, while on the road we do the very same thing. The cell phones virtually burn while friends and family call to hear the results or we call each other to figure out where we are on the road, where to meet for dinner or how the competition went.

I tried to explain this to friends I visited while in Duluth. Describing it made it sound a little ridiculous. But there is a comfort in arriving and finding friends sitting ring side ready to share in your success or not and in the realization that you will know someone where ever you go.

People, who are serious in this sport and travel every weekend, can tell you what restaurants are good in every town they visit or which hotels offer good rates and have a good location. In this case that includes grass. I am not sure if it is unique to this sport, but after a few years you realize, rarely do schedules change. So like the Kentucky Derby which is always the first Saturday in May, you know if it is the weekend after Labor Day, everyone will be going to Des Moines; if it the weekend after New Year's the clan will gather at the Xcel Center in St. Paul; and if it is Super Bowl weekend, Illinois will beckon. And so it goes, you have a built-in set of friends that offer you encouragement, cheer you on and just generally share that part of your life.

The other aspect is that living in the north, when darkness sets in getting out of the house to attend a class, meeting or any other hobby-related event is a good deal.

No matter what your personal pursuit is, if it is solo or a group activity, may it provide you with an extra dimension to life.