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The Tinkered Mind
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January 22nd, 2020
We’re always afraid to lose tangible things. The money in the safe, a sentimental trinket, our phone. But these things pale in comparison to the value of time.
Time is potentially infinitely more valuable than anything we might own. And yet we are ironically quick to let it slip by. Or sell it to the owner of the company we work for.
It’s perhaps a little quaint, not to mention ironic, that we are so careless with the one thing that is most valuable in life.
Luxury, when we commonly think of it, calls to mind images of private jets, glasses of cold champagne, nice watches, and effortless destinations. But this is not the true definition of what luxury means to those who can “afford” it.
The most luxurious gift you can give someone is to grant them more time – to somehow save them time that they’d otherwise have to spend on something extraneous. The top tier of luxury has more to do with convenience than it has to do with fancy things to own.
This pairs the ultra wealthy with an unlikely subset of society: the homeless. Though, it goes without saying that the life of almost all homeless is an extremely tough one, and the time they do have on their hands is most likely not enjoyable. The likeness to the ultra wealthy is more akin with those who have willingly separated themselves from possession and the usual obligations of society. A figure like the Buddha comes to mind.
Both the ultra wealthy and the ascetic have this one central issue with time in common; both are going to extremes in order to hang on to as much time as possible.
This begs the question: what is time well spent?
This may in fact be the most important, and of course, the most difficult question that we can confront ourselves with.
Is time well spent if you are using it to maximize future time?
Or it time better spent without bothering with such things and simply investigating how to simply be present inside the enigmatic moment?
There’s something paradoxically inscrutable about this question. It’s almost as infuriating as what’s the meaning of life?
But fortunately it can prove to be more useful. And we can achieve this by changing the context. By zooming in. Instead of asking how ALL time can be well spent, which is a bit of a non sequitur since we cannot spend all time in one single way, we can ask:
How would today be well spent?
How would the next hour be well spent?
How would the next five minutes be well spent?
All of these questions invariably have different answers because they are addressing different levels of context, and each question increases in specificity because the resolution of time is higher. These questions, though share something crucial in common. They all require a thoughtful pause.
One thing we can be fairly sure about when it comes to this question of time well spent is that time spent contemplating the value of our moments alive is never wasted. This small action, this event, this question that we are always free to pose ourselves, is at core, an act of gratitude.
No matter how difficult life is, even the worst of our lot is lucky to glimpse this strange universe. To wonder how to spend our time during this glimpse is to honor it.