“TI-I-I-IME IS ON MY SIDE. YES, IT IS.” You remember the song. But do the words ring true? Well, for baby boomer Alan Paul of Hawthorne, New Jersey, they do, now that he’s retired.

I’m retired. Did I ever mention that? Maybe I did …

Anyway, now that I am officially ensconced in the “R” word and all its meanings, I find that I’ve got a bit of time on my hands.

Alan Paul doing what he likes to do.

Okay, I’ve got a lot of time on my hands. And that’s a good thing, it really is. Time, after all, is a whole-half of the space-time continuum. You know what that is, right? Good. So, if you’ve got time, you’re at least halfway to understanding Einstein’s space-time theorem and all the silly, but necessary (I suppose) math that goes along with it. Right? Right.

Anyway, my point is actually twofold: 1) Time is a genuinely favorable thing; and, 2) If you’re going to have time somewhere, it might as well be on your hands.

You know, where you can more conveniently do stuff with it. If you have time “on my side,” as Professor Mick Jagger postulates … Well, I guess that’s okay, too.

Still with me? Good.

One of the things I decided to do with the abundance of time that I find on my hands is to use those hands to learn how to play the guitar. (On this point, Professor Jagger and I enthusiastically concur.) What I’ve discovered about learning how to play the guitar is that learning how to play the guitar is very, very difficult.

The first thing that’s difficult about learning how to play the guitar is that one has to utilize virtually every finger one has. The second thing that’s difficult about learning how to play the guitar is, ironically, also finger-related. After about 47 seconds of playing the guitar, the fingertips on my left hand feel like they have been gnawed on, rather voraciously, by a pack of small, angry rodents.

Practice time during the first several weeks, as I’m sure you can now deduce, is then limited to intervals of 47 seconds or less. Fortunately for the neophyte guitarist, after several millennia of 47-second practice sessions, the fingertips in question do tend to form protective callouses allowing for longer practice sessions, and thus more rapid musical development.

I had initially hoped that, after a couple months of trying to learn how to play the guitar, I might begin to demonstrate some innate ability, natural talent, or genetically predisposed mutation for elite-level guitar-playing. Sadly though, I cannot, with any confidence, report such a finding. However, there may be some encouraging news on the scientific horizon.

Recently on the CBS-TV program “Sunday Morning” (the Baby Boomers’ favorite reality show), there was a segment on Nature vs. Nurture, and whether elite-level athletes, artists, or musicians might actually be “made,” rather than “born.” The segment also introduced the “10,000 Hour Rule,” which theorizes that it takes 10,000 hours of diligent practice for someone to master any skill.

At this point, I figure that I have logged approximately 600 hours of practice. So if time on my hands is truly on my side, and I can manage to live another 50 years or so, well, can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?

In the immortal words of Professor Jagger’s esteemed colleague, Professor Willie Nelson: “If you’ve got the money, Honey, I’ve got the time.” True that.

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