If I only had the time, I would learn to play the oboe. I would pick up the piano again. I would join a flute choir.
If I only had the time, I would get in shape. I would start running twice a day, once before work and once a lunchtime. I would build up to sixty miles a week. I would strength train after work three times a week and swim at the public pool on days when my muscles needed to recover. I would train for a marathon.
If I only had the time, I would learn to cook. I would make good, healthy, delicious food all the time and take my time eating it so that I savored the flavors and planned to next time add a little more salt or a little less onion. I would experiment in the kitchen, create new recipes, bake cookies for work every other week, send homemade candy to friends on their birthdays. I would take the time to learn what those mysterious vegetables sold in my neighborhood are and how to cook them. I would expand my palate.
If I only had the time, I would write that novel I’ve been putting off. I’d sit down, flesh out the characters, spit out the three hundred pages necessary to start the process, and get down to the task of refinement. I would discard the ideas that didn’t work and try to find new ones to take their places. I would write every single day, when I got up or before going to bed. I would back up all of my files, print copies before work, proofread them on the train, on the bus, striking out line after line with a red pen. I’d look for an agent, and keep at it until I found one. I would make progress on a dream that has faded into a wish.
But now I am at a place in life where I do have the time. And suddenly I realize that the problem was never a lack of time, but a lack of will. It was a lack of priorities. Because I could have done any of these things, and I can still do any of these things if I set my mind to them and schedule my life around them. But I haven’t. And, without a “higher order” (the parent, the professor, the coach) ordering me to do so, I won’t.
Funny how we blame “time” when we really only have ourselves to blame.