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Day 38: The Value of Time

“Dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.” -Benjamin Franklin

The most profound conflict that I experience about money is often about how and where I spend my time. These issues come out for most of us in questions about whether we are here to achieve or experience. We all struggle with finding the balance between building for a secure future or digging into the present moment. While pursuing excellence and the drive towards accomplishment is the foundation for future wealth, it can also blind us to what we are missing in the here and now. 

Today I am even more conscious of feeling the precious nature of time as a dear friend just became a young widow with the tragic loss of her husband of 25 years to cancer. Most people, when face life threatening illnesses and the loss of loved ones would say that the only real wealth we are given is in the time we are given to live. They would say that mistakes made, which result in losing money are small compared to the loss of time, which is the only irreplaceable. Saving and investing for the future is important, but not at the expense of deferring what would bring joy today.

Torn between the two, I often fall into the place where I have neither. I bring my work concerns into my time with my kids so that no real work happens and the kids feel like I am not really there at all. Choosing the experience and then filling your head with what you aren’t doing robs you of the present moment. This purgatory that most of us give way too much of our life energy to is the mental trap that steals the present moment, which is the only real time we have to work with. This is what Buckminster Fuller meant when he said, “Controlled time is our true wealth.”

Being in this very moment and no other, time as we know it stops. It is our full attention to the true present which distinguishes it completely from the future and the past. According to physicist Steven Hawking, “The laws of science do not distinguish between the past and the future.” The present is the only time that is real, when we have the power to create, connect and choose.

Finding that moment requires three skills: listening for the quietest voice in you (the coherent heart of your life that knows better than your ego mind what next deserves your attention), letting go of the jobs that remain undone until you can come back to them, and practicing what it means to be fully present with whatever you choose to do.