Derek Tillotson


Part of me is a serial hobbyist. I suppose that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it means that I do a bunch of stuff in my spare time but I don't do many of them enough to excel. My job and writing are the two things I always try to dedicate time to (the project I've been working on has been taking up most of my writing time lately). But there are other things I've picked up (and often put down) over the past few years, or things I simply dabble in occasionally.

1) Music. Music kicks my ass. I played the trombone in fifth grade and hated it. I bought a cheap electric guitar in my freshman year of college and got rid of it quickly. In more recent years, I've fallen in love with the ukulele and I recently received my bass guitar. The ukulele has been the life-changer, as far as my relationship with music goes. But music, unlike just about anything else that interests me, provides me with a challenge. (And when you work in retail, you'll gladly accept personal challenges outside of work)

2) Languages. I've dabbled heavily in Esperanto. I can probably hold a bad conversation in it, despite rarely practicing anymore. I took four years of Spanish between high school and college. I also have got my feet wet in langauges like Japanese, Mandarin, and Norwegian. But I've always waited for something to grab me like the ukulele did. A langauge that I'd love to practice even when it beats me up. I haven't found it, but I'm back to trying to improve my Spanish (as the U.S. has one of the largest population of Spanish speakers in the world--I'm always tempted to correct people when they call it a "foreign language").

3) Golf. I played in high school and I dabbled in my summers home from college, but over the past few years, I've been to the driving range every couple months and went to a short course when I was in LA a couple years ago. My golf game was always weird: I can hit the ball relatively far, but not straight (my slice was consistent in high school, though). I can handle wedges well, but suck with irons. I hate walking but I hate taking the cart. The pandemic has made me want to put together a minimalist set of clubs (driver, 3 hybrid, 5/7/9 irons, sand wedge, putter) and start hitting up the cheaper courses in San Francisco once in a while.

4) Most competitive video games. I haven't been playing any of them lately (just a few days left in the digital declutter), but I would typically get into phases where I play a lot of online games, like Halo, Rocket League, or sports games. Or I'd go to local meetups/tournaments and play something like Street Fighter. I've never been super competitive when it comes to games. When I play, I try to take it seriously, but like most things, it takes a ton of discipline, focus, and training to get to a strong level. I've just never seen the real value in it, I suppose. Though I can't knock someone for putting in the hours to get there.

I've been trying to narrow my focus lately. I want to break away from picking up something else next week just because it's there and keep laser focused on a few things. It's (kind of) like Warren Buffet's 5/25 rule. Right now, the things I want to focus the most on are: Writing (still working on a special project), music (primarily bass), language (Spanish), and my career (especially pivoting out of retail).

There are other little things that may pop up, and I give myself permission to check them out, but only if they don't keep me from those core four things.

Written May 4, 2020

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