I have two lifelong passions, sailing and amateur astronomy, and they are both suffering and I think for the same reason.
When I was in my twenties, trying to scrape out a living in an endless string of blue collar jobs, chasing women and going to school, I still had the free time and resources and enthusiasm to own a trailerable sailboat, and a small telescope. As I got older, and a bit more affluent, and had more free time (I was happily married and no longer chasing skirts) I got a bigger telescope and bigger boat. That's when I noticed the overhead.
The more complex and fulfilling an activity, the more time and effort goes into maintaining that effort. Bigger and bigger boats require more maintenance and repair, certainly more expense, and they're tied up with docking fees, insurance, finding crew and all the other administrative crap. With the astronomy, it usually means driving further and further into the wilderness to find a sky dark enough to see the faint fuzzies your big new scope is capable of revealing.
Eventually, laziness takes over. You come to resent spending more time in travel, set-up, clean-up and put-away than in execution. A boat capable of doing overnights and weekends, and even extended coastal cruising, is simply too much trouble to take out for just an afternoon. And afternoons just don't seem to cut it any more. Driving two hours just to get far out enough to find a really dark sky is frustrating when half the time it is overcast when you get there.
If you have a companion who shares your passion, a spouse or child or friend, maybe its worth it. But I never could keep one for long. My wife gladly joined me, but I could tell she didn't have the same love for sea or sky I did. It was just something she put up with for my sake. It broke my heart, but I just couldn't make her come along, no matter how much she pretended she was having a good time. And unless you can share what you love with someone else, it just doesn't seem worth the hassle, especially as you get older and slower, and everything seems to be more and more of an aggravation.
I don't believe the "I don't have the time anymore" excuse. It is an excuse, and it is used to hide the real truth from us, a truth I have been forced to accept, whether I want to or not. I have learned that the older and more settled I get, the more free time I have, and the more I can compartmentalize my time and resources. But I have also learned that I am no longer willing to spend the time and effort dealing with the overhead. I've gotten lazy. Maybe if I lived in a house by the water with its own dock and access to blue water, or had a backyard observatory behind my mountaintop Arizona home. But I don't. And it was never likely I'd have either, certainly not both.
Its easy blaming today's young people, but maybe they've learned by watching us. As for those of you who have learned or worked your way around this dilemma, I salute you, and I envy you.http://i.imgur.com/3ehMD3L.jpg
Artwork courtesy of Mr Fritz Seegers.