I belong to a couple of book clubs. One of these is mostly an excuse to get together with some friends and drink wine, but in the other, we actually do some pretty serious book discussion. Recently, one of the members of my social book club announced that she would have to quit because she just didn’t have time to read a book. She sent an email that made it sound like she had so many more important things to do that she couldn’t possibly spend time on such a frivolous pursuit. I couldn’t help but feel like it waggled a little finger at those of us who evidently DO have time for silly little things like reading. Guess I’m not doing enough important other stuff.
Clearly, to this woman, reading is not a priority. Personally, I couldn’t imagine a life without books being part of my every day, but I’m kind of immersed in that world. Let’s assume for a minute that she really WOULD like to read, but honestly feels that she doesn’t have time. The bigger question here is: if there is something you would really like to do, why the hell aren’t you doing it?
I have talked to lots of people in my fortyish years about all the dreams they have, and the things they’ll do someday. And I’ve seen a few of those people lose the opportunity to pursue their dreams when the inevitable happens far too soon. Yeah, I mean death. It could come in the form of a bus or a tumor or a toy dump truck left carelessly on the top step. This is not new news. The point is that if you have a dream, shouldn’t you be working on fulfilling it?
I get to say this in the pedantic tone that I know is coming through here only because for a very long time, I was the woman who didn’t have time. Since I was old enough to think about it, I’ve wanted to write books. But I have been far too busy to pursue that dream. I was going to college. I was living a crazy single life, having fun. I was working my first REAL job. I was in my first REAL relationship. I was getting married (not to the guy with whom I was in the first REAL relationship, if you must know), I was having kids… And finally, at the point when I am probably busier in my life than I’ll ever be, and certainly am busier than I’ve ever really been before, I am pursuing my dream.
There is never enough time. Especially when large blocks of that time are promised to other people, leaving only a half hour here or an hour there that is actually yours. The key, then, is looking at what you do with your time and deciding if it is worthwhile. I’d like to ask my book club acquaintance how much television she watches each day. I’d be willing to bet a nice bottle of Shiraz that she’s getting in at least an hour or two each evening. And there’s nothing wrong with that! I nurse a couple TV addictions, too (hello Vampire Diaries, Parenthood, Grey’s Anatomy — I’m looking at you!) But it takes commitment to ask yourself how your one hour might be best spent.
Writing is hard. I do it at 4:30 in the morning most of the time. And at that hour, I’d definitely rather be sleeping. At least, that is true from 4:30 to about 4:40. Then, sitting in a dimly lit room in my bathrobe with a steaming cup of coffee in a very quiet house, alone with my computer, I start to feel a peace like nothing I’ve ever known. I believe it is the peace and happiness that comes only from doing the thing that you most want to do in life.
And if nothing ever comes of my efforts, I will have had that sense of fulfillment. And if a bus with my name on it comes thundering down the road tomorrow, I will know that I died having done the thing I most wanted to do.
So I’m issuing a challenge. Give yourself the gift of commitment. FIND the time. It’s there, you’re just doing something else with it. Make a choice to do the thing. Even if the thing is something as simple as reading a book. Don’t make excuses. DO THE THING.
PS: My book clubs are reading the following books this month:
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay