In a recent post I said:
I’ve always wanted to learn lots of poems by heart.
No, I’ll rephrase that - I’ve always wanted to have learned lots of poems by heart.
There’s a story which I’ve told before about the famous pianist Artur Rubinstein. After one of his brilliant performances a society lady came up to him and gushed, “Mr Rubinstein, I’d give anything to be able to play like you.” Rubinstein looked at her and said “No, you wouldn’t.”
What he meant was that the price she would need to pay was hours and hours of practice, day after day, for year after year, decade after decade. And there was no more chance of her being willing to pay that price than fly to the moon.
What she really wanted of course was to be able to play like Rubinstein without having to pay the price.
The story is similar to that told about one of Napoleon’s marshals, Lefebvre. To quote Wikipedia:
When a friend expressed envy of his estate, Lefebvre said “Come down in the courtyard, and I’ll have ten shots at you with a musket at 30 paces. If I miss, the whole estate is yours.”
The friend refused. He was envious of the estate, but not of the years of fighting and danger which Lefebvre had lived through in order to win it.
I’m sure we all have things we would like to be or to have done. But are we willing to pay the price?
If you are not willing to put the price for what you want, then you don’t really want it at all. Not that much anyway.