A while back, I had decided to get rid of nearly all my puzzles, save my 3x3 - 5x5, megaminx, and personal mods (which were hardly eventful, but I was young). The reason being that I had found myself in a rut of non-progression, and found it hard to really be a part of the community when my only interaction was online. I rediscovered and progressed my yoyoing, leading into the downfall of my cubing. I found it fostered progression more, since you could explore and create new concepts without the need for additional hardware, as I felt it was with puzzles.
During this time away, I really pushed my hobby. I invented new yoyo moves and concepts, released videos, won/placed in state and regional contests, and attended/hosted events (I now host the annual MA/NH Yoyo BBQ). Along with this, I made tons of new friends, some of which I consider to be the best I've ever had, again something I never fully achieved with puzzling. Looking back, I think that was mostly my fault, but I also think that accessibility to a local community was and still is very small (though a few yoyo shops are getting puzzle clubs rolling, and cubing is gaining popularity).
Anyhow, I still lurked around the sidelines to a degree. I bought two SengEn FIIs upon recommendation when discussing my hiatus with a fellow yoyoer on an IRC channel (I had a pretty crummy experience with a certain channel at one point, which kept me from frequenting these channels. I've submitted a thread regarding this, and am aware that it was just this particular channel.). These served me pretty well, and I still have one, which I am using to teach my roommate with. I also continued to lurk around on the forums and a few YouTube channels. Oskar's channel in particular really kept me holding on, and I regained even more faith in the growth of cubing when designs and collaborations began being produced for a larger market.
I learned a new method of solving the 3x3 during my "lurking" period when I bought the FIIs. Corners-First (Ortega)/Edge Keyhole has been a blast, and it reinforced my opinion that speed is one of the least interesting facets of cubing for me, when I can have a blast just doing a smooth solve with a fascinating method. After I've demonstrated absolute command of this method, I will most likely move onto (or maybe create?) a new method to keep this mentality fresh. I don't want to learn Fridrich; intuitiveness and wonky-ness is my main aim. This is the same reason why I don't really solve higher order cubes that much. I prefer a whole new turning /method/ as opposed to a larger number of similar possible turns. (Although, I am working on a reduction method for the 4x4 that revolves around the corners, turning it into a 2x2; 3x3 reduction methods bore me a little. Has anyone done this yet?)
I think what really confirmed that I wanted to return was when I bought a Curvy Copter puzzle through complete impulse. There was just something about it that really jabbed at me when I saw it; between its almost simple appearance, to its true dual challenge because of the ability to jumble. I know I've said on occasion that I don't like shapeshifters or jumblers at all, and I'm still mixed, but this reintroduction to current puzzles through the Curvy Copter really took me back to the fun I recall 5 years ago, when everything was new and exciting. This time, however, I wasn't looking at a truly innovative puzzle online, I was holding it in my hands in the college library, trying to keep my giggles under wraps as I jumbled it for the first time.
I'm trying to keep things on a small scale at the moment. I've purchased a Dayan ZhanChi, Rex Cube, and a whole bunch of CubeSmith stickers for all of my new and old puzzles, such as the Eastsheen 4x4 and 5x5 I decided to keep. I might buy some new higher order cubes at some point (higher order being >3x3) because my 5x5's core has cracked for the third time, and I don't really feel like messing with it anymore. It's in a plastic baggie at the moment. I don't know, I may buy another to see if I can learn a method to reinvigorate my appreciation for larger cubes, but I can't find myself being motivated enough. Perhaps at a later date. The 4x4 is holding up, so I might just stick with that in the meantime.
To put a clincher on this big fat mess, I've been creeping my way back into cubing, like a puddle being absorbed by the edge of a rug, I guess. The innovation that is not only more present, but also more /accessible/ these days really really excites me, and my new outlook on puzzling methods is my attempt to keep things fresh for a longer period. I'm not sure, I'll probably stick to the edge for a bit and lurk. Just wanted to share my experiences thusfar, if only to say that I'm making my way back and having a bit of fun and making discoveries in the process.
Also one last thing, I made this thread immediately after solving my friends's 7x7. I got the feeling that if I can still do it after 5 or so years of not touching or thinking about one (and I only solved it /one single time/ back then), as far as my brain is concerned, cubing is here to stay.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading my smattering of thoughts.