Remember our thesis: We often find freedom in the exact opposite direction of freedom (dare I say…always?)
On a somewhat related note…isn’t it interesting that Paul says that the free man is now a slave to Christ, and the slave is now a free man in Christ? Eh? Eh?
Another concept in which I find the “Freedom from freedom” theory holds true is on the topic of time.
Time and money: Opportunity cost
Perhaps you’ve heard the statement: Time is money. What does that even mean?
Well, let’s put it like this: Most of us start out in a job that pays us by time and not by task. For example, when I first went to work, my job paid me $7 an hour (minimum wage was $6.50 at the time). I was not paid by task but by time. In that regard, I (like many people) learned like this: I was exchanging time for money. I will sell you one hour of my life, time that I could be spending doing something else, for $7.
As we grow older, some of us end up in different pay structures. We get paid by task. For example, let’s say that I make pretty hats, and I sell them for $20 each. And I know that working full speed, I could make 2 hats per hour. My hour is now worth $40.
But now, I am tired. I would like to blog and play video games.
But if I can raise $60, I can buy a new video game.
Hmm…that would cost me one and a half hours.
Suddenly, the phone rings. “Hey, Carson, we are going to go to an Art Museum and look at stuff that people have painted. We’ll even pay the entry fee for you! We’re going to be there for about 90 minutes!”
You kidding me? I don’t care that you’re going to pay my little entry fee. I’m not wasting 90 minutes of my life on something I’m not interested in. That’s like $60 worth of time to a pretty hat-maker like me.
So back to my original thought…blogging and video games, or $60?
“Hey, Carson, we are going snowboarding. We’ll be there for 10 hours, and lift tickets are $75.”
Yes. Absolutely. $400 in time, and $75 in lift ticket. But man, snowboarding is fun. Let’s go.
Perhaps you’re following my concept: Making “yes” or “no” decisions with money is very similar to making “yes” or “no” decisions with time…you can only make so many “yes” decisions.
And with this in consideration, it’s no wonder why Americans (it’s actually part of our culture!) get so fed up with people wasting our time: Because that time is time we could be spending on making money, or on something else we’d rather spend time on.
However, there is a critical difference with time that we must consider.
Time and money: Similarities and differences
- Time can be exchanged for money (e.g. Picking up extra hours at work, taking on an extra part-time job, or doing a one-time thing for money).
- Money can be exchanged for time (e.g. Hiring someone to do something so that you don’t have to, or paying a babysitter so that you don’t have to spend time taking care of the kid.)
- Opportunity cost: Just like money, we have to choose what to spend our time on, and choose what NOT to spend our time on. If I have $60, I cannot buy both the new Splinter Cell AND another new controller. I spend it on one or the other. Likewise, if I have 2 hours, I cannot spend 2 hours with my friend AND play spend 2 hours on a date with my wife.
No, I’m not taking my friend on a date with my wife. If you said that just now, pardon my arrogance, but you clearly know nothing about marriage.
Differences (and these are big):
- 1. With time, unlike money, everybody has the same amount per day.
Sure, someone will say “I don’t have time!” or “That person has more time than I have.” But actually, this is a simple concept: Everybody gets 24 hours a day.
Johnny says “I don’t have time to add on another task.” But he plays video games 2 hours a day. Does he have time? Sure.
Before you judge him, remember that you stalk people on Facebook for 2 hours a day. So if you judge him, then you can never tell anyone “I don’t have time” again.
Susie says “Well, I don’t stalk people on Facebook or play video games. In fact, I am spending all my time keeping my grades up in my AP classes. Therefore, I can truly say that I don’t have time.” No, you can’t. Susie, you get 9 hours of freaking sleep every night. Nine hours. I know that’s healthy, but man, compared to the rest of us, you might as well hibernate for a while.
Susie, you do not have less time than everyone else. You simply spend your time on grades and sleep.
Johnny gives up some time for video games.
As for me, as an example, my average day (let’s take a Tuesday, for example) involves ten hours of work, two hours of family time, two hours of video game time, 1 hour of randomly assorted tasks (go on an errand with Sarah, or do the kitty litter, or stuff like that), 1 hour of eating something, 1 hour of computer stuff (blogging, Facebook, internet stuff) and about 7 hours of sleep. Sometimes I stay up late playing video games more than I should. That means 6 hours of sleep. Sometimes I sleep in. That means 20 minutes of family time (not a good habit).
If I want to do something else, I can make cuts somewhere. But where? And is it a worthy something else to do? Is it actually worth giving up any of this time?
- 2. Time, unlike money, cannot be made back up.
I think one of my science teachers back at Sprague said it best: “When you’re young, take big risks with your money. If you lose $1000, you can simply make it back again.” Simple…but slightly true. Before you get caught in the “repeating habit” of career/bills/life, you can take risks like that.
However, I do put a little bit of stock into that one Dalai Lama quote, which legend says that it was his answer to “What surprises you most about man?” The quote goes:
“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Not too much stock, mind you. This can be taken too far.
However, I must say that if the goal of anyone’s life is a great retirement, then there is a great sadness to that. Youth and newness has special joys that cannot be brought back. Abrielle will never be a baby again. My wife and I, although we can rekindle romance, will never be newlyweds again. My dog, Panda, was put to sleep less than a year ago. I remember spending time with Panda. I can’t get that back. My cat, Baldue, is 15 years old now. She is on my lap while I type this. Once she’s gone, I can’t get her back. My mom died of cancer. I can’t spend time with her anymore.
Now, as I mentioned last post: Regret is stupid. My goal in saying these things is not to produce regret…but rather, to inspire a sober assessment of the present. Not to be super depressing…but when I lost my mom, my father lost his wife. It is wise for me to remember that there is no guarantee about how long I will get to keep my wife before she goes home. I’ve heard the saying that no parent should suffer the pain of outliving their child. I agree…but this is a reality for some people. Who is to say that tragedy will not strike my own household, my own daughter? Let me not live in fear of what MIGHT happen, but rather live in thankfulness for the time I get to spend with my daughter.
In fact, someday Abrielle will move out. I remember my own family of five…Mom, Dad, Dawnine, Tara, and myself. The three of us have now “spread our wings.” Someday Abrielle will spread her wings. Let me enjoy my time with her. Because I can’t get it back.
So, to conclude the first half of the “time” post, let us sum it up like this:
In light of the similarities, we should be just as wise and discerning in spending our time as we should be in spending our money.
In light of the differences, we should be even wiser in how we spend our time.
Once my wife reads this post, I will never be able to guiltlessly spend hours playing Mass Effect in front of her again.
The key word is “guiltlessly.” I’ll still play it.
Coming soon: Time, part 2. How the “Freedom from Freedom” concept plays into it.