17 June 2009

Hobby for the old and broken

1999 marked the end of an old century. It also marked a major turning point in my life. Due to several debilitating injuries, I could no longer serve in my beloved military. I was broken. No longer could I do feats of special stuff. No longer would I be able to handle specialized equipment that only a privileged few would ever know. No longer could I go on exotic adventures to far away places while keeping the homeland safe.

I became old before my time, and broken.


A new beginning...
All of my colorful past (and career) came to an abrupt end. I was at a loss. Loss of profession, loss of a life that I was so proud to be a part of. Loss of an identity. I literally had to remake myself from scratch.

Almost a year later, I had started a new career. There were lots of potential. With a lot of work, perseverance, and a clear view of what I wanted to achieve, I had once again found my niche.


Hobbies...
All work and no play does indeed make one dull—and grim. After finding my professional self, I found that I didn't have a life. It was all work, work, and work. I was too serious, much to the chagrin of Mrs. Ampster.

I had developed hobbies to balance off my job. I was a martial artist once. Tried it, and didn't last very long as this thing called pain reminded me of my condition. I was a scale model builder, but didn't have the space, nor the place to display my finished works. I got back into playing video games. My butt got bigger as couch potato-ism insidiously crept in. I was once an armorer and took that up as a hobby. Fun, but prohibitively expensive at times. Can't sustain that all the time. I rode my motorcycle a lot. THAT was fun!


Just for me, me, and me...
In all of the hobbies I partook in and tried, one fact became obvious to myself. It was all, just for me, and all about me. My hobbies were just mine. In my search for me, I had left Mrs. Ampster out of the picture. This wasn't right. I wanted to do something with her. Something she would enjoy as much as I did. I did not want her to get into a hobby just to accommodate me. It would have been noble of her, but I want something for us.


Behold, ballroom...
I discovered this thing called a dvd rental store. Being a huge broadway fan, my wife and I enjoyed watching videos of musical theater. One day, I rented "Shall We Dance?" Great! I had to see the original Japanese version, "Shall we dansu? This was followed by "Strictly Ballroom." I was on to something. I watched more dance shows, read a lot about dance. I woke up one day, and I asked Mrs. Ampster, "Honey, want to take ballroom lessons with me?" Guess what her answer was...

We did our ballroom thing and one dance stood out—The tango. We were specialists. Then we saw Forever Tango. As it turns out, Ballroom tango is very, very, very different from Argentine tango. What we were proficient at, was not the dance we wanted. We had wasted so much time. Besides, the competitive ballroom world is a crazy world which neither of us wanted to be in. We had to move on.


Tango...
We took up Argentine tango in Seattle. We got started. Took lessons, went to milongas, and figured it out. We got proficient. We had the same teachers and developed different flavors of tango. Bizarre, but, works great together. It's as if we learned from different teachers... But I digress.

On a more personal note, I've found something I can be good at. An art form that I have a distinctive signature in. Its a vernacular that I feel special knowing. Its something that I can make people happy with, one partner at a time. Its a hobby that doesn't involve danger, combat, serious physical injury, pain, trauma, nor booming things.

I've found something to do that totally makes up for being old and broken. Most of all, its a hobby I can share with my beloved Mrs. Ampster.



6 comments:

Johanna said...

Well, I'm not so sure you're all THAT safe from "serious physical injury"...

But the journey to reinvent yourself after a life-altering experience is something I have in common with you. Although clearly not as dramatic (since I did not experience a catastrophic physical debilitation), it did help me focus more on the joy of life.

Your journey continues to amaze me, Ampster. You are so noble and aware. I do hope to someday meet you on the dance floor.

londontango said...

That's funny Johanna and more likely true!
The end of one thing allows something new to blossom that you can put your attention on.
Change isn't always a bad thing. Glad you worked it out.

Johanna said...

@ londontango - change is always good, though it might not always be pleasant :-)

AmpsterTango said...

@ Johanna: Thank you, and, someday... :-) Also, having to reinvent one's self allows one to have a second chance in life (of sorts)

@ londontango: Change is good, only if it can managed well and make something good out of it

Anonymous said...

i know lots of broken people who have been healed with argentine tango.

Elizabeth said...

Ampster,
No one who milongas like you could be considered old, or broken!
XO
E