I used to practice technical fingering exercises on the home piano, but one day after stumbling into the high-school music room between classes, I learned a shocking truth; I have very little musical talent. There was my buddy, playing a few simple chord arrangements. No spectacular fingerwork, but he filled the room with emotion. A crowd had gathered. He played that thing like music was in it. Like music was in him.

Still, I bought myself a nice keyboard 15 years back, and noodled around on it, just poking on notes I thought fit well together. One Christmas re-union, I tried to show off, but got horribly up-staged by my concert pianist level cousin. It was a bit embarrassing.

After 12 years without a keyboard I bought a new one. And an electric guitar too. Good quality. I find that if the instrument sounds good the music sounds much better. In this case the workman can blame his tools. I love the sound of my guitar, and that inspires me to play it.

I’m still relatively talentless, but I want to share it; taking up instruments is an enriching hobby. I’m not reading music or playing songs yet, just finger picking out notes that seem to fit together. It’s strange to see my ear and fingers pick out a nice harmony only to discover that it’s a G chord. I plan to practice without guidance like this for a while. I’m learning to pick out the correct notes by ear, and sometimes stumble upon interesting progressions.

Same for the piano, but I play totally different arrangements on that. It’s as if both instruments bring out different musical personalities in me.

Maybe it’s the few mini-strokes I had a few years ago, but most of the process is unconscious. My fingers seem to find their way by themselves.

I bought a few other toys recently that have really enriched my life. One is a boxers heavy bag. I love that bag. I beat him up every day as much as my wrists and knuckles will allow. Got some cartridges for the air-pistol; another fun piece of aggression. Not loud enough to trouble the neighbors, but just loud enough to spook the girl.

I’m sure there is plenty of room for improvement in other areas of my life, but I’m very happy with these choices.

And although I enjoy these hobbies in their own rights, they are also strategic. They increase my value in the eyes of my woman, and should do the same in the eyes of others.

Other hobbies that might do the same could include dancing, public speaking, acting, kite surfing, team sports. But time is limited. A few hours each day on these brings steady improvement. And steady joy.