Last year I was able to visit people who all have their own obsession, quiet place, moment of relaxation or mission. What I saw: hobbies are about dreaming. About being mindful – however ugly the word and the associated hype. Remarkably often, it is related to nature. You need discipline and patience. It gives meaning for the policy officer who is also a plant mother, the ethicist who stuffs animals or the professor who paints. And: you need to take your hobby seriously, but not too seriously. It requires a certain shamelessness, an amazing lack of embarrassment. Singing loudly, playing guitar, dreaming of what might have been.

I will always remember visiting the living room of the academic who prepares dead seagulls for the Natural History Museum. It changed my view of animals, in this case the seagull, forever. He was able to transform the seagull as a species back into individual beings, which are more than irritating food thieves or fish stealers. They love their own place, with their own specialisation and rituals.

And what did I learn? Don’t be ashamed, have fun. Dream a little. Try and learn. Just do it!

So every week, I now do my best to box with Tony from Bootcamp Tony, I run, and I recently tried surfing. And once you get over your own embarrassment, I’ve noticed you can sometimes succeed. I quite regularly do karaoke, even if it usually involves some alcohol. In February I started gardening on the balcony – the radishes failed, the flowers are doing better. Such an array of colours. And yes, I went horse riding, sometimes consider doing it again, and played korfball. And I’m proud of it.

The hobby section was the best thing I did this year. As a tribute, you can admire all the photos of the hobbyists below (several of them called it more than a hobby, more of a mission).

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A corona summer: Bianca Jadoenath (ISS) relaxes at Clingendael

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Beadle Marleen van Kester spots kingfishers and gets rid of weeds in her vegetable garden

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Franses Schildert

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Philip Hans Franses paints gorillas and forest fires in his studio in Delfshaven

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Policy officer Grace Yano has a plant for nearly every square metre of her home

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Clinical ethicist Erwin Kompanje stuffs dead gulls in his living room

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Dominique van Deursen squats tens of pounds next to the dining table

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Geriatrician and guitarist Francesco Mattace-Raso plays music with his son

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