By: Revanche

More time than money

August 3, 2009

In the run-up to this year’s Con, Friend and I discussed our plans and our buy list, and struggled with naming titles that we were interested in continuing.

For him, he’d been buying more than he should have to fill the void created by working in a soulless environment. I just didn’t have the heart to want anything but out. Two very different approaches to the same problem.

We agreed that, despite the usual ritual of purchasing the next year’s gifts at Con, we’d focus more on the experience than acquisition. Makes sense, we nodded, we’ve got more time than money this year. That decided, we resumed sharing job-hunting frustrations: interviewing, and sending out new applications – time consuming, depressing hurry-up-and-wait scenarios.

Two days before Con, we got fantastic news: he’d landed a job and would be, for him, raking it in! Within half an hour, I’d outlined his future budget: 25% of gross to taxes, 25% of gross to savings, 35% of gross to expenses, 15% remaining to play with. [For the record, he wasn’t pleased with my planning. And Christmas presents, I prognosticate, will be ridiculous this year. They will be outrageous. They might even be obscenely outrageous. That’s how his mind works. Also, for the record, it took 30 minutes because we needed 25 minutes to celebrate before I got back on track.]

In the aftermath accounting, a ton of time was spent spending money, sending that mantra right out the window, but the real surprise is that a paradigm shift occurred when I wasn’t looking: I don’t have more time than money. I can’t make more time, I can’t bank more time and I certainly can’t earn more time credits by working overtime. Yes, that sort of fell apart at the end, there. The point is: wasting time is like that awful commercial about the dude eating the Skittles from his friend’s hourglass. You cannot pay back your time debt, this is all you get!

And that brings to mind a line from Planetary (by Warren Ellis, Vol 1): “Tell her it doesn’t get any better than this. After this, there’s nothing. Do you see? …. This time is all we have; we can’t allow anyone to take it from us.” I’m not advocating vigilante justice or anti-religious crusades, the point is simply that this life is what we get. We should value and enjoy it accordingly.

My concern about not making money hasn’t gone away. I have major life and financial goals that can only be reached by earning, but for the first time, it’s matched by my concern that I’ll go back to business as usual and fail to maximize this rare time off.

This is new. Work has been the fact of life since age nine: my parents owned a business and I was expected to go there after school and weekends if I wanted to see them. Pitch in if I wanted them to go home at any reasonable hour. Earning my own wages, since money from my parents was family money, was a big deal. At 16, I took a job with the Census and I’ve been working ever since. Bulling ahead was my primary focus, and for far too long, life was something that happened after hours if it fit in. Workaholism was not a bad word in my lexicon. But as sage Crystal recently said, “There is more to your short life than being employed just for the sake of being employed.”

And appropriately for my situation of searching for the right next step, comic book writer Joshua Dysart agrees, “You can live your life the way you want to and be creative. And you can deny the cubicle your soul.”

3 Responses to “More time than money”

  1. L.A. Daze says:

    Great post. It really puts things in perspective. Got me thinking now!

  2. Miss M says:

    I really enjoyed my 2 layoff periods, they are the only real summer vacation you get once you start working for a living. The rest of your life is spent trying to work more, earn more and get ahead. I hope you are enjoying yourself! The economy will turn around, unemployment will drop and once again you will give over your days as a wage slave, in the meantime have fun.

  3. Revanche says:

    L.A.Daze: Quite a few of us are contemplating this life/goals balance these days!

    Miss M: It’s funny how often we fail to appreciate the present circumstances, whatever they are, in our fuss about the future, isn’t it? I’m doing my best to make the most of this time: exploring options, travel, etc.

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