We call them hobbies, avocations, callings, passions. These are the noninstrumental activities that help to define us. They reward us with character because they involve an encounter with meaningful resistance — with nature’s laws, with the limits of our own bodies — as in carving wood, melding raw ingredients, fixing a broken appliance, writing code, timing waves or facing the point when the runner’s legs and lungs begin to rebel against him. [...] Such activities take time, but they also give us time back. They expose us to the risk of frustration and failure, but they also can teach us something about the world and our place in it. [...] We must never forget the joy of doing something slow and something difficult, the satisfaction of not doing what is easiest.
It steals from us one of life’s greatest rewards — the simple pleasure of doing something you merely, but truly, enjoy. [...] There is also a real and pure joy, a sweet, childlike delight, that comes from just learning and trying to get better. Looking back, you will find that the best years of, say, scuba-diving or doing carpentry were those you spent on the learning curve, when there was exaltation in the mere act of doing. [...] Lost here is the gentle pursuit of a modest competence, the doing of something just because you enjoy it, not because you are good at it. [..] one of life’s greatest rewards — the simple pleasure of doing something you merely, but truly, enjoy.