Learning some type of art and diving into the process of creating something new is one of the most self-realizing dichotomies I've discovered. You feel the creative work coming from inside of you, but also from the multitudes of outside influences you've garnered through the years. It gives both a sense of greatness and a newly transformed sense of accomplishment; while also body-checking your ego as you compare your work to the great masters of the particular craft and seeing how short you come up on the yardstick of mastery. You learn things about yourself as you dig in to find the next phrase or stroke, yet feel somehow disconnected from your mind as you draw from the universal sense of art and creativity. It is no wonder creative people have such a different mojo about them. Does the continuous process of these emotional extremes change someone, or do certain people just have the right combination of raging insecurity and hyper-active ego to continuously dig deeper into a craft and put it all out there for the world to see?
Stephen King tacked a nail into his bedroom wall and stuck his first rejection letter onto it. A few years later there was no more room on the nail, and he had to start another. That's just amazing to me. It was never about just fame or fortune, it was always about doing the thing that he loved the most - telling stories.
I always loved Bob Dylan, but then I tried writing lyrical songs, and I heard Dylan with completely different ears. Just the process of trying changed how I hear music. I hope everyone finds a point where they can just try the thing(s) that they love, and see these things on a deeper level. Maybe that's why I've given up the idea of spending part of my life watching spectator sports. I realized that if you spend your time and energy on something then you should be able to both participate and grow within it. You should be able to reach the internal extremes of the experience, to feel the feeling that you can't describe, but that you can recognize in the eyes of your fellow craftsmen. To know that the years of participating, or creating, of doing, will have the power to grow you into something fuller.
I really believe that engagement with the things you care about is the key to happiness. Engagement with work, family, art, nature, physical activities.
Or as my dad liked to say, "Right or wrong, good or bad, just do SOMETHING" No shit.