I think it's really a coincidence that I have long had the same wonders about the future of flying that you have. Although I'm not an airline pilot (I'm actually your age) I have had the opportunity to talk with many pilots who fly a variety of jets and turboprops and they all say the same thing.
Although the new technology has taken away many of the responsibilities of pilots of older generation jets (727's, DC-8's, etc.), the flying part is STILL there. I have yet to meet a pilot who rotates the aircraft, clicks on LNAV, VNAV, and the A/P and leaves it like this until landing and rollout. That's why they're pilots--they LOVE to fly and control the incredibly complex, beautiful piece of machinery that we call the airplane.
Of course, a variety of factors determine how much pilot manually flies the aircraft on a given flight: most important, the weather. When it's good, most of the climb and descent through landing is flown manually. The pilot flying (PF) advances the throttles, rotates the aircraft, engages the flight directors and follows the flight profile manually up to a good altitude using the settings in the FMC. Of course, this doesn't mean he has his hands on the controls this long. He would trim the controls, but would manually make the control inputs until he decides to click on the autopilot near cruising altitude. No one really wants to fly after this point; you'd just be holding the control yoke.
All pilots like to shoot landings, especially visual approaches. It's the most exciting part of any flight. Unless the conditions are IFR or the pilots are really tired, they will perform the approach and landings themselves. THAT"S WHY THEY"RE PILOTS!
I was on a Beech King Air yesterday, and I got to mess around with the controls. But just holding the yoke isn't much fun. Even the pilot of this plane used the autopilot in the cruise, but made a PERFECT landing manually.
So don't worry. There are probably some deadbeat pilots out there who like to push the buttons more than "drive" the airplane. But the majority became pilots for a reason--they had the same dreams that you and I have and finally realized them in a big Boeing or Airbus. Not even the most complex, capable computer can take away the magic of flying.
Give me a mile of road I can take you a mile, give me a mile of runway and I can show you the world.