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The Lucilius Parables, Volume I


November 13th, 2019



Here’s the deal:  I give you 1 Trillion dollars right now.


But the catch is you instantly become 90 years old.


Would you do it?



Most people don’t go for it.  And this question brings to light one of the rare instances when people truly internalize just how much more valuable time is when compared to money.


Let’s say you are 20 years old.  If you do the math, saying ‘no’ to 1 Trillion dollars means that each day is worth at least


$ 39,138,943.24


If you go even further and account for 8 hours of sleep, then each hour is worth


2.4 Million dollars.


Think about that the next time you crack a beer and throw on a rerun.



Let’s say you are 30 years old.  If you do the math again, then saying ‘no’ to 1 Trillion dollars means that each day is worth at least:


$   45,662,100.45


45 million dollars.


Already we can see the trend.  The thing about time is that it’s like food when you’re lost at sea: it becomes more valuable the less that you have.


Let’s say you are 65 years old, the traditional age of retirement.  If you do the math, saying ‘no’ to 1 Trillion dollars means that each day is worth at least:



$ 109,589,041.09



The worth of a single day in this thought experiment would paradoxically fund many fantastic lifetimes.  Of course, the catch in the thought experiment is that most people don’t see much in the way of potential and possibility when it comes to such a ripe old age, and therefore the gargantuan amount of money would be fairly useless as the chance to use or enjoy it would be severely diminished.  But here’s the other side of that catch: we are all headed that way anyhow. 


We have to stop occasionally and wonder if our day is being well spent.  And pay attention to that verb we use:  spent.  Look back on your day yesterday and imagine if it cost you 39 million dollars to live that day.  Talk about a spending spree, and for what?  Hopefully some of you will look back on yesterday and smile, but it’s easy to imagine that many will look the other way rather than let this query land as sensitively as it could.


Here’s another way of looking at it.  The wandering homeless person who sits outside of a coffee shop reading a book has a lot in common with some of the richest people on the planet: they have the freedom to determine their own schedule.  Most everyone else in between is bound by a time table set by others.  While obligations and responsibilities have most people pinned to this situation, that does not mean the situation is unalterable. 


Human ingenuity is a powerful force.


But most people sell themselves short on that one too.


Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

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Podcast Ep. 577: A Thought Experiment: A Day's Worth

Tinkered Thinking

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