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6. August 2020 Matyáš Jirát

New Hobbies during Covid-19 times

Through January and mid-February I had my internship. The time at home ended and a semester in Bennington started and I had to fly to the USA. The talk of the possibility of global pandemic started already, but what would transpire didn’t become reality in my head until it became real in the world. Mid-March, we got an announcement that out studies are transitioning to online learning and we ought to decrease the density of population at the campus. Said goodbyes to the seniors as we knew we probably won’t see each other again and from Friday when the announcement came out I was already sitting on a plane at Sunday flying home to the Czech Republic, where statewide quarantine just came into existence.

First I was struck by how differently the Czech Republic and the USA have been approaching this situation. But, that would be for another blog.

Quarantine time was the first period in the last 5 years since I started travelling when I could stay in a single place for more than 3 months. Interestingly enough, it brought many positive changes. I started to care about the space I am in way more (also connected to my new interest in architecture), therefore I have redecorated my room, redesigned it. Cleaned up all junk, dismantled the spare bed and created for me enough space to place in a small weightless gym in the back of my room. Another (dis)advantage of being home and the only home was… my only movement was up the stairs and on the garden. So I created exercising challenges for me and since the start of college, I felt like I started getting back to shape I was when I played handball many years ago. Or almost at least.

But the biggest new hobby was to discover how the world is made, how it is connected and that is through woodworking. For a long time, I have been watching YouTube videos way late into the night about woodworkers. But now I discovered that my dad had well-stocked shed and I could try my hand at it. For some crazy reason, I decided that my first project is gonna be a big, solid lumber table made of mahogany wood, which conveniently, my grandpa had for some reason in his attic.

Equipped with the beautiful wood, several week-long processes of learning, making mistakes, lots and lots of research online, buying new tools, learning to use them and some more learning of how to connect boards. My dad calls this a professional deformity, though I am far from a professional. But now, anytime I see a piece of furniture, I need to wonder. How is this made? How did they connect it? What supports it and what binds it together? I think for me, this newfound way of looking at the world is the most important and interesting discovery through this whole process. As well as making this wonderful table.

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