"That is pretty cool... I wonder if I could do that."
These are the words that pop into my head every time I end up taking on a new hobby. Ultimately I have one hobby; teaching myself things. I come across something I think is interesting and challenging and embark on a mission to teach myself how to do it.
This started more than twenty years ago when I started really getting into music. I wondered if I could learn to play a guitar. I saved up one summer for a guitar. By the end of the summer I had enough to get a classical 6-string and a beginners book.
Twenty or so years later I now have three guitars and a banjo. Granted, I am no Hendrix or DiFranco but I can play them.
This pattern has repeated itself with sleight-of-hand magic, art and modeling. I love the process of taking on a new challenge and the journey of self-education.
Over ten years ago I started playing poker. After dozens of books and countless hours of play I've become a pretty good player. My winnings have turned into plane tickets and days at the spa for A*. I play in a regular no-limit cash game every Monday night and run my own poker league that plays a few times a month. I am also an avid online player.
Poker is the most challenging of all the things I've tried to teach myself. It combines math and statistics with self control and perception. In many ways poker is more like golf than blackjack. More often than not, it is the player that beats himself, not the other players.
Mr. Boxer and I are going to Vegas in October for a hard-core week of poker.
One downside to my unending drive to learn new things is I've become a jack of all trades and a master of none. The only things I've become better than average at are poker and magic. I was able to support myself for a year doing magic (in college). I am considered one of the top players in all of the regular poker games I play in. I am a winning poker player in Vegas.
I wish I could play the guitar like Mr. Drinker. I wish I could paint like Vettriano. Sometimes I wish I could amaze like Gary Kurtz and make final tables in million dollar tournaments like Ivey. I find comfort in knowing that if I took all of my energies and focused on just one of these endeavors the others would have never been developed. I cannot imagine knowing just one of these skills. All of them enrich my life.
(editors note: Christ what a boring post. Thanks for enduring it!)