I’ve been playing saxophone for over 25 years. I sound pretty good sometimes, but I’m no Coltrane or Brecker. It takes an incredible amount of patience and practice to play on that level. I still practice and get better.
The point isn’t to be better than John Coltrane. The point is to be better than I was yesterday.
I’ve been learning Japanese for nearly 20 years, but I’ve been doing it the hard way: without a teacher. I learn from watching anime. I used to learn from reading books. Now I use tools like YouTube and Duolingo. I’ve gotten pretty good at understanding conversational Japanese. I can even speak it and read a fair bit. But after all this time, I’m far from fluent.
The point isn’t to blend in with native Japanese speakers. The point is to learn a language I’m interested in.
I’ve been coding and working with the web for over 20 years. I make and maintain my own websites, often from scratch. It’s been a way to share my music, blog about what’s on my mind, store media, you name it. I’ve learned a ton of web tricks over the years, but no one would mistake me for an actual developer.
The point isn’t to get a hip job in a desirable tech company. The point is to learn how to do some cool techy stuff.
I’ve been recording/producing music for 20 years. I’ve released over 20 albums and EPs under a variety of projects and names. I’ve learned electronic music production, recording music with a DAW, hardware, software, mixing, and all kinds of related tools and jargon. But I’m hardly an expert. I just figure things out as I need them.
The point isn’t to run a professional recording studio. The point is to be able to work on modern music making techniques without having to pay for studio time.
Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to live long enough to master one or two things in my life, but I would still be practicing, still trying to improve. The point isn’t really to perfect anything. The goal is just to keep having fun learning things. Getting better comes naturally, the more I do it.