This inescapable fact was driven home to me lately in my efforts to write about guitar lessons at Sparks Music. For the two of you who read my column, you might remember a month or so ago I promised that I’d be taking some music classes at the local business and writing about the experience, thereby sharing my efforts to unleash my inner rock star.
The owner of Sparks Music, Mike Manning, generously set me up with a guitar teacher for some half-hour weekly lessons. This was back in early January. Since then I managed to make it to three or four appointments while canceling twice as many. And I had planned to participate in a group class, but that idea has also gone by the wayside.
My reasons for this flakiness are numerous but they all come back to one basic principle: no time. Even though I was planning to do this for work, my job managed to get in the way several times. Some of these appointments were for Saturday at 6 p.m. but Sunday’s paper was never quite finished in time. Then I tried for Monday – my day off – and even that didn’t work. Shopping trips, chores or simply spending time with The Wife always took priority.
My excuses are pretty flimsy when I think about some of my peers. The Wife and I just have two dogs and no relatives in this area. We have no kids to go home and take care of or any other pressing responsibilities once the work day ends. I can’t imagine being like some of my other friends who have child-rearing responsibilities once the whistle blows.
Somehow, though, one of my friends from California who has kids managed last week to take four days away from fatherhood to visit us and go snowboarding. And he has not one, not two but three kids! I asked him what his wife did wrong to earn him a free pass, to which he sarcastically replied, “She forgot to take her pill.”
The more I thought about it I realized that despite working full time and raising a herd of kids, he managed to take some time for himself. If he can do it, why can’t I?
In an ideal situation, I’d make all my decisions in life by asking myself, “When I am on my deathbed, will I be glad I spent my time doing this?”
My feeling is that on the day I check in with St. Peter, I will be carrying too many thoughts of things I never made time to do; I am sure that mastering a few musical instruments is just the start of the list.
But then I think about all the good times I have here at work. It sounds strange, but I enjoy my job and the people I work with. We have fun with each other and I enjoy leading a team of people striving to put out a good newspaper and all the challenges that entails. I know The Wife wishes I could get my job satisfaction in fewer hours, but she is happy that I like my job so much (especially since I hated my last job).
So let’s go back to my philosophy. On my deathbed, will my time at the Sparks Tribune qualify as time well spent? Though I am hopeful that my lifetime still has many more enjoyable and exciting moments still to come, I am pretty sure I will think fondly on my time here.
Now if only I can find a way to practice my guitar and harmonica in the newsroom.
Nathan Orme is the editor of the Sparks Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.