What is the one thing you have always wanted to learn, but haven’t? Maybe you’ve always wanted to be a gourmet cook? How about a salsa dancer? Have you always wanted to buy an old car and fix it up to revving, ego-boosting perfection? Travel the world? Get a chiseled 6-pack?
The truth is, if you haven’t done it yet, then you probably never will.
This fact became long-termly clear to me when my best friend spoke of her Dad’s wise opinions. During a conversation, she began expressing all of her wildest dreams and his response was simply, “Lauren, if you really want to do it, you’d be doing it already.”
Read that again. “If you really wanted to do it, you’d be doing it already.”
The first time I heard this I was actually pissed. My best friend told me this my junior year of college right after I told someone I’ve always wanted to play guitar.
The back story: I bought an old acoustic from a man at a gas station once for $30 when the never-ending gas inflation had reached it’s peak of $4 per gallon. He needed to go see his daughter and I needed the instrument that would serve to accomplish my 75th unfinished project (insert self-mocking sarcasm here). This event not only served as my good deed for the day, but also as a sign that it was time to embark on my dream to become the ultimate campfire entertainer.
So I had a couple of friendly practice sessions and even bought a “how to learn guitar” workbook. But, due to the demands of my college workload, a part-time job and my (never to be neglected) precious social life, that good deed guitar began to collect dust, one layer after the next.
Regardless of the layers, one night I told a curious guest I own the guitar because “when I have the time” I want to learn how to play it. This was followed by the frustrating wisdom of my best friend’s well-lived and self-assured father.
Once again, “If you really wanted to do it, you’d be doing it already.”
This is a line I have never forgotten and pondered numerous times, but has taken three years for me to not only understand, but completely agree with.
Why has this suddenly become so clear to me? Simple. It is because of time, or should I say the lack of time. Now that I have graduated college and chosen my first real world career (by real world, I do not mean my job specifically, but more so the total and utter obligation of supporting myself without parental assistance), the little free time I do have has become a precious gem. It is rare, appreciated and greatly taken advantage of.
I realize that I am a person who not only wants to, but has to try everything. What I choose to do with my free time has become my answer to what I really want out of life. My two M.Os: try everything once and unfinished projects.
I want to learn a new language fluently. I want to learn how to use a sewing machine. I want to be a freelance web designer, finish reading Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman and run a marathon. I want to be exceptional at photography and I want to be a wine connoisseur. I want to cook fancy meals and make it look easy, learn how to live off the natural earth and fall in love. I want to find my journalism niche and become a respected journalist. I want to write a novel, or a memoir, someday. I want to meet the world. And I still really want to learn how to play guitar.
But, after my workday finally ends and before my eyelids unwillingly close, there is only so much I can do. And without even thinking about it, I begin to write. I write in my journal, I write blogs, emails, poetry, letters, random post-its to myself, etc. I read books and they inspire me to write. If I lost my wallet and journal in the same night, I would cry about my journal (this actually happened). I breath in experience to the maximum and write about it in its fullest. Point is, I choose to write.
Out of everything I really want to do, writing is what I actually do every chance I get. Now that I no longer have the abundance of free time like I did in college (but would never admit), I regret taking it for granted. Time is a lot like love—you don’t know what you have until you’ve lost it.
But I can firmly state, with this newfound appreciation of free time, that I am so relieved I choose to write. As clueless as I am about my future, one thing I have always said is that I want to be a writer. It is something I really want to do and I am doing it.
Because no matter what, if you really wanted to do it, you’d be doing it already (third time is the charmer). Remember this next time you tell someone what you want in life.
So tell me, what do you do in your free time?