Every day we pay for things.
We exchange currency for food, music, for a couch, for the ability to charge our cell phones, even for a basic element of living like water.
It is second nature to us, this giving to get. We fret and obsess over how much money we have and don't have. We measure success by things that we've paid incredible sums of money to own or by the amount of money we are paid at the jobs we do.
Frequently, these possessions we purchase or the wealth we have in the bank are to impress other people, or because owning that new trinket gives us a sense of accomplishment. We're conditioned to this culture of living that requires swapping money to accumulate possessions. We do this willingly, unflinchingly. We're used it to the point it feels innate, like breathing. We buy. We get. We sell. We gather money. Over and over.
We can get lost in this culture easily. Because we are entrenched within it, it's nearly invisible to us and we are desensitized to this exchange. From youth, we are shown and told ad infinitum that money is one of the most important things to have. It certainly is important for things that we need, like shelter and food and clothing. And it is nice to have enough to splurge on simple pleasures like going to the movies or eating out at a restaurant with your family.
Money itself is not evil nor a problem. Money is simply a currency. What money does do is blinds us from a currency we have that we forget about most of our lives: the currency of time.
Time is a currency we use every single moment we are alive.
When we commute to work, we are spending that time getting to a place where we do tasks for others. At that job, you are exchanging time for the ability to provide for yourself and family. If you are talking to another person, you are investing time in exchange for their company or their insight. If you are playing with your children, the time you are spending is to pay for their development and joy, in the hopes of making memories and wonderful human beings. We are using our time in exchange for things -- all the time, and the shame of it is mostly we don't know it.
Time is a finite thing. We do not know exactly how much of it we have, but it is not a resource we can replenish. We simply have what we have. And that's it.
The beauty of time is that it can be spent on anything. This is also its ugliest feature.
We can use our time on things that don't matter, like making sure your house is spotless or wondering how you'll respond to an online conversation or playing a mindless game crushing digital candies. When we have only a set amount of time on this plane of existence, why would we choose to spend it on such inconsequential things?
Time is your most valuable thing. It's worth more than any amount of money you can ever accumulate. We are rich with it, no matter how much of it we have left. It's a space where we are all truly equal, with no classes or strata separating us.
It is worth it, I think, to budget our time on things that ring as truly important to us. Connections with family, friends, and strangers. Hobbies and passions. Love.
By budgeting, I do not at all mean being frugal with that time. Spend your time lavishly but not frivolously. Give it to those beings that you know are worth it. Let go of the rest. Exchange it for life, the feeling of new experiences, the thrill of being where you are, no matter where that place is at the moment. Cultivate love. Explore yourself within and without.
Be open and present, and you may find that satisfaction of knowing that you've used your own currency of time well.
This post originally appeared on Be You Media Group.
Photo: Kiran Foster