I'm only 40 years old, but find that my own craft is 'coming together'. I had a period of time where I couldn't afford to purchase fresh film and paper, to own a decent enlarger, and so on, but I made due with what I had, to the best of my ability. Lots of different cameras and lenses of varying quality and reputation have been used, as well as hand-me-down paper and expired film.
It was always a struggle, but I learned a lot. Finally I have arrived at a place where I'm comfortable with all my (now good quality) equipment, and I find myself exploring technique and skill a lot more. There's a harmony to it now that wasn't there before, and that's thoroughly enjoyable to me! It's becoming almost entirely a mental exercise rather than something to do with a particular film or lens. It's all about the picture, and I can sort of 'feel' what the picture will look like when I click the shutter, as if the rest of the work flow is so engrained in how I think that I can anticipate the results.
Like you I have found a place where I enjoy figuring things out, but it's more to do with darkroom work flow and technique than any particular gadget. But in principal it's similar to you, where it somehow took years for all my thoughts surrounding photography have finally ripened, and I'm in a good position to actually execute the ideas.