What Are Passion Piles? Do You Have Some?

First question, what's a passion pile? For purposes of this post, it is what I need to enjoy a hobby or interest. For example, to enjoy playing a guitar I need an instrument, music books, and a place with good light and space. A passion pile contains what I need to make the most of the time I have set aside to do something I like. Since one of the most-asked questions is "what do you do all day after retirement," I thought you might find some answers based on what I do.

In one of my file drawers are materials and inspirations I need for this blog. After 7 years I can write one of these articles pretty quickly. What takes the time is deciding on a topic. As you might imagine, after nearly 1,000 posts virtually all the topics that relate to a satisfying retirement have been covered, and covered again. To keep readers coming back I have to find new ways of presenting the same information. Or, I have to find a fresh approach to a common problem: a good example is the idea of "passion piles." 

Links to web sites, things on Twitter or Facebook, questions or suggestions from readers, newspaper or magazine clippings, even random thoughts I have while doing something else are stored away until I am facing a writing deadline without an idea of how to fill 600 words. 

I am considering writing a new book about retirement. That means another filing drawer of rough drafts and partially finished chapters printed out for my review and corrections. Actually, I will be asking for your feedback on this project in a few days.


The previously mentioned guitar is probably better described as a passion corner. The guitar hangs on a hook on the wall behind the printer. A collapsible music stand and various books of songs are kept on a nearby shelf. A few times a week I close the office door and plunk my way through 30 minutes of practice. Since my office is next to the living room, I have noticed Betty puts on earphones when I start to play, but I am assuming that is just a coincidence.

Reading is a serious passion of mine. On average, I probably finish a book a week. That means I have several stacks in various places in the house, at various stages of completion. When the urge hits, I am never more than a few steps away from something I can pick up and immerse myself in a mystery or whatever non-fiction topic has captured me at the time. Having recently seen the powerful movie, Dunkirk, I have located a book to help me know more about this momentous event.

Ham radio has been a hobby for over 10 years. My office has half a dozen different amateur radios just to the right of the computer. A few different types of antennas are strung around the attic, allowing me to talk to other hams across town and on the other side of the globe. Some reference books for the hobby are kept close-by.


I written before about refinishing and restoring vintage radios as a new interest. That requires several large and growing larger passion piles. 

Beside the radios themselves, there are all the spare parts, wood stains, furniture strippers, soldering irons, cleaning rags, screwdrivers, and other things needed to bring these 1940's era radios back to life.

Betty has been teaching me the best way to sand, strip off old finishes, and use shellac or stain on the wooden cases. This is something I have never done before; it is a new challenge.

I have taken the attitude that if I can't fix a radio or  if I turn a working one into a non-working hunk of tubes and parts, that is OK. Learning to do something new requires some failures along the way. 


Update: Just in the last few days I have done exactly that: tried to update the insides of a 1945 radio. Instead a large puff of smoke meant it would be pretty to look at but will no longer work!

A pile that is quite small at the moment but will grow in a few weeks is the material I need to teach a Junior Achievement class at the local elementary school. The organization provides a clear-sided briefcase packed with everything needed to fill a 45 minute lesson once a week. Even so, I must take the teacher's guide and figure out the best way to reach the kids who are setting in front of me, near the end of their school day, very ready to head home.


Finally, one passion pile includes all the stuff we need for upcoming trips and vacation ideas we think would be fun. A folder for our European river cruise next May, an upcoming family trip to Flagstaff to take part in a fun run for Parkinson's Disease, thoughts on day trips inspired by the post on Retirement Travels of a few weeks ago, and a cruise to the South Pacific when our budget recovers.

Often all we need is a nudge or a reminder of something that is satisfying to fill our time in a meaningful way. Passion piles, or simply things that engage your interests and enthusiasms if you prefer, helps answer the question of what a retired person can do with all that free time. 

What type of "passion piles" you you have? 


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