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Monday, August 08, 2016

I Don’t Have Time to...



 “Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.”
-Lao-Tsu

“I don’t have time to read.” I’m not that kind of person and I doubt I have ever uttered this phrase. I could be piloting a passenger jet heading for a crash and I would probably still find time to read something which is probably why they won’t let me fly passenger planes. I never say that I don’t have time to do anything and I don’t believe you if you say it. “I don’t have time to exercise” or to do anything else is a mostly bullshit statement, or more accurately it is an outright lie.

If you tell me that you don’t have time for reading, exercising, learning Spanish, playing the piano, or whatever I simply won’t believe you. If you tell me that any or all of these things aren’t of sufficient interest to you to warrant your time then I not only will I believe you but I completely respect that sentiment. I don’t play poker, not because I don’t have time but because I fucking hate playing cards so if you ask me if I want to play poker and I say that I don’t have time it means that I fucking hate to play poker. In this case I was just being polite.

I couldn’t care less what you choose to do with your time but for some reason most adults feel that they should read, at least a little. This is why you hear the “I don’t have time” excuse for not reading more than for most other adult activities. Most of the time when people say “I don’t have time to read” what they really mean is “I hate reading as much as this guy hates playing cards.” But here I will come to the defense of non-readers. I think that it isn’t that people don’t like reading; it’s that they don’t like reading books that don’t fascinate them.

I knew a young kid who admitted to me that he had never read an entire book in his life. He said he hated reading. I answered that perhaps he just hadn’t found the right book. I gave him a copy of Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down and he read it in a day. He obviously liked the book to read it in a single day which suggests that he probably does enjoying reading when he has the right book in front of him. I would guess that this is the case for many people who don’t read. I could probably say the same thing about people who don’t exercise—another activity most adults either do or feel guilty about not doing. Maybe they just haven’t found the right exercise?

I don’t have to make excuses very often for missing work-outs but I do something for exercise that I also do for fun and transportation: I ride a bike. I will also admit that I have a lot more free time than most human adults simply because I don’t have children. I probably put more time into thinking about ways to spend my free time than many people have to pursue all of their extra activities. I don’t apologize for that; it comes from the choices I have made.

When I mention a book that I have read or a TV series that I find interesting there is often someone who will spit out the “I don’t have time” line. To these people I will tell them that I don’t apologize for the fact that I have time to further my intellect. This may sound a bit condescending but not half as much as saying you don’t have time. I’m not trying to be superior; I’m trying to make conversation while they are definitely trying to be smug.

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