A few events and conversations came together this morning for me. As though by design they’ve led me to articulate yet another session of pondering into this article. The issue that kept reinforcing itself was the matter of ‘time’.
Sitting on a blanket at the park one day, my girlfriend (of the time) and I were talking about events past, present and future. We both agreed that people who live out their life with a malicious, selfish heart are pretty much insulated from enjoying life for any prolonged period of time. No amount of goodness injected into their life seems enjoyable to them since they only find joy in seeing others in pain or distress.
Prior to that, earlier in the week, I found myself playing a little game with the idea of time. I noticed that just as there are 24 hours in a day, there are 24 months in a two year period. At that rate (if time were compressed), 14 years of my life would be equivalent to only a 1-week period in ‘compressed time’.
Assuming that I were to live to be 98 years old, this would make my entire life a duration of exactly seven weeks in ‘compressed time’. Since I am right now 34 years old, this would mean that out of my seven weeks to live I have so far used up two weeks and three days.
(For those keeping track [real=compressed].. 98yrs=7wks; 84yrs=6wks; 70yrs=5wks; 56yrs=1mo; 42yrs=3wks; 28yrs=2wks; 14yrs=1wk; 2yrs=1day; 1yr=12hrs; 1mo=1hr; 1day=2min,7sec.) Whew.
As you can see above, it made me think differently about how much time I have to spend. Each month that goes by is like one hour out of a seven week lifespan. Finally, last night as I was rummaging through my e-mail I came across a memo I’d gotten from a friend in New York. She’d sent me a message she’d gotten about the idea of time and how we use it.
In the forwarded message it presented the situation this way.. “Suppose there was a bank that credited your account with $86,400 each day. It carries over no balance from day to day, allows you to keep no cash balance, and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day. What would you do?” Naturally the amount of $86,400 is the number of seconds you have to live every 24 hours. (24x60x60=86,400) You can’t save any unused part for a rainy day and there’s no knowing when the fund will run out.
This final event really made me sit down and think this morning. In terms of money (time).. how have I spent it so far? I can remember times I spent my time on other people, investing in their needs and joys. I remember times I spent it wisely on myself when I was in need of rest. But I also remember other times I spent it selfishly on myself when others needed it more. I remember days I had no desire to spend it at all. I remember days I didn’t have enough to do all that I wanted on a given day.
I began to think about the future, how I would spend what little I may or may not have coming. For all I know I really only have about another two or three weeks of non-compressed time to live. One day I will walk out of my apartment and never return, ever. So then, how will I make the most of my time until then?
My first thoughts were to rush out and do all I could, as though there were no tomorrow. But of course that would only ensure I burnt up my life even faster, and with probably more troubles than I’d have time for. No, there is a better way. The one great difference between time and money is that, when it comes to money.. you can’t take it with you. But not so with time. All religious beliefs suspended for the moment, the way you spend your time on others will have as much or deeper impact on others than your money ever will after your time is over.
Yes, there are people who need your money. They need food, clothing and medical care. Do not with hold money just because you share your time as well. But what money cannot do is comfort a broken heart. It cannot listen to the troubled soul. It cannot call up a parent once a week or spend a few hours with a child for a ‘special day’ to give him/her attention. It cannot make a handwritten note to a friend on their desk saying, “Just thinking of you.. have a cool day!” But we can spend our time, investing it doing such things.
The world is full of people who either don’t value their time or don’t care to use any of it for the welfare of others. They have time to argue without cause. They have time to make others feel bad or insecure. They have time to tell malicious lies or gossip. But they don’t truly have time to just spend even a small portion on the good of someone else with no reward other than satisfaction.
I figure that of the time I have each day, all 86,400 seconds of it.. some of it will go to things not quite so noble. Brushing my teeth, taking a shower, putting gas in my car, etc. But those are the short-term stocks in investment terms. They serve their purpose quickly and are fleeting with little return. What I want to keep my eye out for are those long-term, high yield stocks.. the ones that increase in value as the years go by when someone comes up to me and says, “You know, I was just remembering back when you listened to me during that tough time I had a few years ago.. I just wanted to say, ‘Thanks’ for being there for me.”
That way, when my seven weeks are over.. I can rest a wealthy man.
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.