Have you ever really gotten into something heart and soul but no matter how hard you tried you just couldn’t master it, or you feel like you can master it but it is taking too long and you are not sure if you can hold up for the long haul. Painting was like this for me and now writing.
Drawing! I can draw a picture of a bear, and people don’t say, “Wait, is that supposed to be a horse?” But I can’t get any good at it. Nothing more than some basic workmanship. My compositions are awkward, I can’t seem to figure out how shapes overlap each other, and as for draping fabric or flowing hair, fuggedabout it.
I love to sketch! But I’m never going to get any good at it.
I sketch also but will never be good at it. Animal profiles I do ok at, landscapes, people, faces, I just can't get it.
Part of getting better and better at something is the realization that you haven’t mastered it… yet. I play ukulele almost every day for a half hour to an hour – more on my days off, maybe up to 3 hours or so. I get better all the time because I deliberately challenge myself. Usually I play my own compositions, but last week I learned T. Bone Burnett’s “Humans from Earth.” It’s a difficult song on a uke – every single chord in the song is a 5th, and it took me forever to come up with the right arrangement. I couldn’t have done it at all a few years ago, but now it was doable. And when I think I’m getting to be hot shit on the uke I watch a James Hill video to bring me back down.
Another vote for drawing. I have dabbled at it over the years and some of my stuff ain’t bad for someone with no real training. I did have some informal training from a couple very good artists over the years and the joint conclusion is “you just ain’t got the touch, kiddo”.
I’ve felt this way with a couple of the crafting hobbies I’ve pursued in the past: painting miniature figures (for playing D&D), and building model rockets. I got to a certain point of moderate proficiency, but could never master the more advanced techniques.
Spoilered because that got away from me. Music. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into music and I might as well have never played a note.
Music. I’ve tried, I really have. My parents forced the piano on me and I was probably as good (maybe half as good due to IMO poor teachers) as any kid that took piano lessons for a few years. After that I took a year or two each of clarinet, bass guitar and guitar. I know that’s not long enough to get good at anything, but none of them ever clicked for me. That is, at no time could I ever pick up any of those instruments and just play something. Every note and all of them was a struggle.
Years later, I dragged the guitar out again and spent about 2 years teaching myself how to play and made some progress, but it still never clicked.
A few years back I picked up a Uke and Baritone Ukulele and played with them for a while. I made some progress on the Baritone (and the idea was to transition back the the guitar), but I always felt like I was struggling. Nothing ever got easier.
Every once in a while someone will see this collection of instruments (the guitar and ukuleles) or it’ll come up and they’ll always jump right to ‘hey we should get together some time and play. My buddies all come over on thursdays …’ and I have to explain all that.
Sometimes I think about going back and taking formal lessons again, but I have to remind myself that it’s one thing to grab one of those instruments and watch some youtube videos. It’s another thing to throw money at something that I can fully admit to myself I’m not going to be able to do. If after nearly 25 years of off and on trying I can’t make a song come out of a guitar, it’s not happening now.
I’m always jealous of people that can pick up an instrument…any instrument and just play it. No music, just start playing. Someone is already playing, they’ll join in. I was in school one day. We’re waiting for the [music] teacher to come in. One of the kids starts playing the piano. Another kid sees a guitar and grabs it, and this is what I’ll always remember, he says ‘it’s missing two strings’, and he joined right in anyways. The big deal, all these years later, is that we were in grade school. These are 11 or 12 year old kids one playing random piano song the other having no problem adapting to a guitar that’s missing strings.
All I want to be able to do is say ‘you have a guitar? can I play it’ like people say when they see mine.
Of course, people are impressed as shit when I fix things. They look at me like I just reached into Narnia and magically made the machine work again. To me, that’s (usually) easy. As one conversation went. “How can you fix things so easily”/“How can’t you? Open it, find the broken thing and put in a new thing (as I’m holding up a giant left handed bolt that’s sheared in half)”.
I spent 50 years as a keen amateur chess player.
I reached an ELO rating of 2390 (and qualified as a F.I.D.E. Master) but knew I could never match full-time Grandmasters.
I still enjoyed it (and even earnt a living as a chess teacher and organiser for 25 years.)
Now I’ve retired from chess and am trying bridge instead!
You can certainly be proud of that. Just out of curiosity, how did you age correlate to your rating? I would imagine experience would trump any minor age related deterioration in raw brain power until you started peeking out.