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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Money and Time

 If a country is governed wisely...
People enjoy their food,
take pleasure in being with their families,
spend weekends working in their gardens, 
delight in the doings of the neighborhood.

-- Tao Te Ching

There is a lively debate going on nationally lamenting the tragic decline in our morality and values. In politics we ask where are our traditional values of honesty, courage, and integrity? In our personal lives we are still looking for the codes of individual responsibility and accountability, civility and compassion? And, in civil affairs the values of respect, deliberation, and wisdom are missing.

I had an "aha" moment last week when, in the shower, I realized that all of these values require time and attention which is something in short supply in our world that prioritizes work and consumption. These traditional values can not be bought or sold or invested in. They cannot be manufactured, advertised, or marketed. They require the nourishment of our time and commitment.

It seems to me that we have traded our time for money. I know I did and do!  In fact isn't that the mantra we value most... "time is money"? And yet the discussion still goes on about the absence of these important and primary social and personal values. How do we decide when we have too much time and not enough money and when will we know when we have too much money and not enough time? You know I don't think I have ever heard anyone discuss this topic publicly. Why is that?

The "rich" are the people with lots of money and no time. And people who have a great deal of time and no money are called "poor".  Furthermore, success is measured by being busy, working hard, and making the "big bucks". But secretly we buy goods and services we hope will bring us peace, nourishment, joy, and respite from our lives. Disappointed, we then turn again to more work and consumption.

So what if we were to expand our definition of wealth to include those things (values) that grow only with time. A walk in the woods, taking a nap, reading a good book, talking face-to-face with our friends and neighbors, and playing games with the children. "What if we were to live, for even a few hours, without spending money, cultivating time instead as our most precious commodity?" How would we be different? How would our communities be different? The world? Here's another gift that the aging process and retirement presents us...time to be our best!

The revolutionary notion here is for each of us consider that the fruits of our labor might be found in resting and the unhurried harvest of time.  Time to return to our values.  For "with all the money in the world, and no time, we have nothing at all."