Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Money Well Spent

A fellow ponderer got me thinking about time the other day.

He was referring to all of the additional time that it now takes people to get through airport security, and how this is being done solely in the name of saving lives. The question then, was how many millions of additional hours has this now totaled the American people, and how many “man-lives” does it equal to?

That’s kind of an abstract concept. After all, even if hundreds or even thousands of additional “man-lives” have been “lost” at airport security, each individual passenger has only lost a few of those hours themselves. For most of us, if a concept doesn’t affect us personally, we either have a hard time grasping it or it simply doesn’t matter to us all.

Five years ago I left Orlando, FL and moved to a tiny little town called Liberty, KY. The change was dramatic; a population of half a million people to less than 2,000, a 6-figure paycheck to hovering around the poverty line, and, for this example, a 45 minute commute traded in for (quite literally) a drive of less than 2 minutes.

I should clarify to say that my 45 minute commute was one-way; I spent fully 1-1/2 hours in my car every day, 5 days a week, just going to and from work. By comparison, the 4 minutes I spend now isn’t even worth mentioning.

It was this 1-1/2 hours that I no longer spend each day that I started to think about in earnest. 90 minutes a day doesn’t necessarily sound like a lot until you consider that it equals over 16 days each year.

Think about that! I used to spend 16 days each year just sitting in my car.
Usually frustrated.
Usually stuck in traffic or sitting at a stoplight.
Talk about a waste of time!

To take it further, what that means is that in just the past 5 years I have gained almost 3 entire months of time – 3 entire months of my life – that I was able to use for anything I wanted!

How many times have you heard someone lament that they wish they could have had “just one more day” with a loved one? How would they react if they learned that they could have had days, weeks, months – even years – simply by getting rid of one or two of those things that we waste our time on every day?

Each of us has a finite amount of time on this earth, and yet so often we spend it without even thinking about it, as if there was an unlimited supply.

There’s not.

And the cruel twist is that none of us even knows how much time we have left on our own personal lunch ticket. In light of that, how could we ever waste it as if it means nothing?

To look at it from another perspective, if we could buy time, how much would we pay to get an additional 16 days of life each year? For that matter, what is a single day worth in monetary terms?

I would imagine that if you needed one bad enough, it would be priceless.


Tony Dye said...

Ironically, I sometimes find that "car time" is great catch-up time. My car time is my audio time. Books on tape, podcasts, or sometimes just music (but more and more rarely). I'm with you on loving short commutes, but often, a good long drive is therapeutic. I know I'm off your main subject -- with which I agree. Time is precious.

Meg said...

Great post. Very profound. It really makes me think about what I am doing with my life and how I can enhance it and waste less of it. Thank you.