value of time

Value of time …

Many of us misunderstand the true value of time. A good friend forwarded this email to me a while back. I decided to post it here as it definitely helps to keep things in perspective. You gotta read this and please let me know what you think in the comments area below.

Establishing the true value of time …

———- Forwarded message ———-

The best advice I ever got:

I had 2000 dollars saved, and was trying to choose between a surf trip to Bali, and a piece of land on the Big Island (of Hawaii) for which the seller had agreed to take my money as down payment. I called my friend, a gypsy traveler who had made it big in real estate. “If I buy this land now, I will be way ahead of the game when I am older” I reasoned…

“How old are you?” He asked. “20” I said.

“Man…. There are a million ways to make money in the world. GO SURFING”.

Since then, Ive had many amazing years of travel, and living outside the social norm. I have come to the conclusion that far too much emphasis is put on money in today’s world. That the real treasures of life are mostly things that don’t cost a thing: Freedom, adventures and the TIME to experience them.

Time has much more value than money. Strange then that we trade our time for money, is it not? 

The error is in the belief that more money will buy one even greater time…  But it rarely does. I put it to you that the more you have, the more you are slave to what you have.  Just ask my millionaire boss.

Sure, money can buy you a gold plated ipod, a new Beamer, a country club membership, but these are just distractions, aren’t they?

Comfort is not the same as happiness.

We should realize that all dreams have a common thread- time:  When I just get enough time, I’m going to…  After just one more thousand…

But as Sterling Hayden Once observed: “To be truly rewarding, a voyage, like a life, must be based on a firm foundation of financial unrest… Which shall it be, bankruptcy of purse, or bankruptcy of spirit?”

As a direct result of my refusing to buy into the normal 9-5 work system, I have had the kind of experiences  most people would give their life’s fortune for.

My value of time is different to most …

Many people have wondered how I could ‘afford’ to travel all these years- (he must be doing something illegal)… But in response, I ask, “how can you afford to stay at home”?  What with the rent, the car payment, the cable T.V. the bag of weed and a twelve pack each week… Heck, Im SAVING money by being a rolling stone, I don’t know how the rest of you do it. Im serious.

But, differences in lifestyle aside, the real gem here is the perspective shift.

The focus should never be on the money, but rather the things money could achieve. Once you see clearly that money is just a means to an end, but not the end itself, a whole world of possibility opens up, and a great weight is lifted: Money is only an obstacle, a waypoint, on the path to the real goal. It’s a distraction. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and the surest path to your dreams is always a direct one.

I learned early that to make a journey happen, all I really had to do was buy the ticket. Even if I didn’t have the rest of the money, there is magic in decision. Just buy the ticket, and all else will fall into place.  I was so sure of this basic principle- a universal secret- that I bought my first boat on credit cards.

Disclaimer: You must have a plan, and not just blind faith. You can’t just run off around the world with no plan to pay it back. But a loose outline and a bit of self discipline is usually all it takes.

I could have taken the long road: Saving money each year until I thought I had enough. But Id still be there, Im quite sure of it. Instead, a bit of work in exotic places like Taiwan, and Fiji, kept me floating until Australia, where I sold the boat and paid my debts.

5 years in the blue Pacific, and not a penny to show for it, but memories to rival the greatest treasure.

So it is with great trepidation that I now find myself invested in a house, and holding down a “real” job. At nearly 40, perhaps I can be forgiven a bit of nesting instinct- the desire to have an even better quality of life.

Few would question a man’s God given right to own his own home, right? Even the freest spirits would admit a need for balance- one cannot live on rice and beans forever. Moreover, no one would pity me for my job, sailing around the world and getting paid.

But that is exactly what I am questioning. Do we really need these things?

With 6 billion people in the world, are we ALL entitled to our second home in the Hamptons? How many cars is enough? How much money is enough? Isn’t the dream job, still just a job?

What are our highest intentions? Is it the dream job, or the dream itself?

For me the answer is still time. Freedom and time. Sure, some of life’s greatest rewards come from commitment- relationships, family, even your job… But let us be very clear about the fine balance we must keep.  

In everyday life you will find that your boss, your lover, or your government often try to manipulate you. They propose a “game” in the form of a choice in which one of the alternatives appears definitely preferable. Having chosen this alternative, you are faced with a new game, and very soon you find that your reasonable choices have brought you to something you never wanted: you are trapped. To avoid this, remember that acting a bit erratically may be the best strategy. What you lose by making sub-optimal choices you make up for by keeping greater freedom.”  – David Ruelle, Chance and Chaos.

Again- you cannot run off around the world with no plan to pay it back. But a little planning goes a long way. The scales are already so greatly imbalanced in ways that will trap you in the system, one must give extra spontaneity to tipping them back.

From the mainstream, these kinds of actions- quitting  your job, buying a boat, going surfing- may seem erratic, even irresponsible. But from where I am standing, they seem like some of the sanest options available.

I was recently in Cuba, one of the poorest countries, yet with some of the happiest people.

Ever notice that often the less people have, the happier they are? Why is that? Perhaps it is true that “Freedom is just another word for ‘nothing left to lose”. 

Sadly, every Cuban aspires to move to Miami, the asphalt land of the “free”. Meanwhile, most freeway numb people in Miami only dream to feel as alive as a Cuban…

There is a high spiritual price to pay for financial gain, pretty much across the board, yet we all rush headlong into it regardless. We are convinced that we will be the exception. “Not me, I’ll be different. Come on lucky number 7!”…

In Cuba I met a French sailor, an anarchist, who believes that the “lack of system is the only viable system”… That accepting pre determined roles and bench marks sets any system up for eventual crash. That making ones own definition of “success” is the only real success, and that once enough people live outside the system, the system will dissolve, peacefully and without fanfare.

And he is right. Don’t hurt anybody, but be yourself. The rest will take care of itself.

I’ve got a house and a job, for now, but I will not be a slave to these transient things. This dream job is still just a job, after all. There are million ways to make money in the world. Money is not a good bench-mark for success.

Life is grand and far from over. Im going surfing.


Do you appreciate the value of time? How does time, freedom and material possessions rate on your personal scale? Let me know in the comments below!

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