I'm 42; for the past ten years, I have been keeping really busy. TOO busy, in some ways. I helped found and build two companies; renovated two houses; created music at an obsessive pace; started beekeeping; read 2 or 3 books a week; started road-biking again after a 20+ year break; spent 3+ days a week tele-skiing; brewed beer steadily; stalked big Muskie in MN lakes; learned to fly-fish; golfed weekly (and weakly, I should add); learned HTML; explored every nook and cranny of the Rockies; got two big dogs & learned the art of training; learned a bit about wine: I never sat still. I considered going back to school to channel some of that energy into another degree, but I could never decide what I wanted to study, so I never went.
Last November, my wife and I moved to NE Washington state from the midwest. In the middle of our move (literally the day after the movers picked up our stuff), we found out my wife had cancer. She's fine now, 100% cured, no chemo, radiation, or tamoxofin; but from Nov. to mid-March, I was on the verge of a collapse. My blood pressure was around 190/110; I had a serious case of depression.
Now, 8 months later, I find myself getting back to normal; however, normal has been redefined for me. The companies I helped build are still plugging along, but I'm less and less interested in them; my new house is mostly finished; I no longer make music (except for some guitar noodling); I haven't set up the beehives here yet (next spring); I still read a book every couple weeks; I ride about 50-100 miles a week on the roadie; still ski obsessively; sold my brewing gear; haven't fished since last summer; golfed once this year; haven't touched HTML; haven't travelled; still work with the dogs, and am still interested in wine. I find myself just sitting in my yard, staring at the trees, almost every evening. I know I'll eventually start to get back into some of my old hobbies, but for now, it's nice to just sit back and relax. Trouble is, I've gained 20 pounds since Nov. too: Stress really plays with your metabolism.
While I agree that lifelong learning and exploration is essential to one's sanity, I think periods of reflection and evaluation are essential too. From my perspective, I can see that my go-go lifestyle, while fun, was not sustainable. I was so busy, I never really thought about whether I was actually enjoying
all those activities. Once I was forced to stop, I got to think about what I really wanted to be doing with my time, and decided to eliminate those things that didn't totally move
me. Free time is not 'doing nothing'; it's recharging the mental batteries.
My hobbies now consist of physical pursuits; a healthy mental state requires a healthy body. I'm considering going back to school now, but again, I really don't know what I'd study. If a topic interests me, I get a ton of books on it and read voraciously. The trouble is, things that interest me don't pay squat in the work-world, so justifying the time and expense of school to study something I can read about on my own time doesn't make sense. Learning doesn't have to mean formal schooling, esp. if it's just a hobby.