Time is Not Money

When I first had the realization that Americans talk about time in the same ways they talk about money, my brain literally powered down like a robot with its cord accidentally pulled out.

“Life is long” says my husband Micah. “Life is short” says me.

I had never really begun to think about my relationship with time until recently. After I got married I realized that I would have some time on earth with my husband and then we would die.

Naturally, I freaked out and decided to jam as many experiences I could into my weeks. I signed us up for a website that suggests fun dates around the area – and went on one at least once a week. Always wanted to be out and about in LA discovering new things. Always wanted to be somewhere new and planned many-a-weekend & longer-term trips. 

The result? I am exhausted.

However to me, thinking about time is stressful. There is never enough time in the day that I’d like there to be. I realize also that how I *ahem “spend” my time directly correlates with what I’m passionate about.

I am the master of my time, yet I feel like time is mastering me.

It took me a minute to realize this, but I am passionate about the relationship I have with my husband. And I wasn’t utilizing my time with him. Just him. Just us.

In American culture, we say “time is money,” but in reality “time is priceless.”

If we instead looked to breaking the construct of time that we have created, even just for a moment or a weekend (i.e. we ate when we were hungry, we let the day come to us), we would replace the value of time with how much we value the people in our lives.

When I worked on Skid RowI listened to so many stories. People would come into my office, plop down in the chair next to my desk and start talking. Instead of getting frustrated (sometimes I did), I would just spin my chair towards them and listen.

The concept of time slipped into the background when people opened up and shared their lives. In those moments, they were sharing such a deep piece of themselves. The emails could wait. The voicemails could wait. And you know what? Nobody died. The world didn’t stop turning. If anything, our lives were enriched by one another’s at that moment.

Because for once, I didn’t care about time as a currency exchange. I cared about the person, and let the dialogue lead us to where we needed to go.

And we got there, not by watching the clock, but by letting it spin around unnoticed on the wall behind us as we ran and danced around the stories in our minds. 

Time is not money, it is priceless. Enjoy your holiday season and ignore the hands of time. 

DO IT WITH PEACE. NEVER GIVE UP.

While I was in Canada at a conference this year, I had a moment where just six of the participants and speakers decided to create our own break out session and digest what we’d gone over so far at the sessions.

One of the women there was from Ukraine, moved to Canada and had a son in high school. She was now a successful director of HR at a non-profit and was one of the most soft-spoken, humble women I’d ever met.

She was speaking of the hardship of getting her son into a school and the difficulties he faced due to the culture and language barrier. She spoke of the difficulties of not wearing what was “required” to an interview in Canada, when she had worn what she considered her best attire in her home country.

She spoke of the difficulties of being turned down and being placed in entry-level positions due to her accent, though she had higher degrees and was a professional in her field.

After 10 years of struggling up the corporate ladder (ten years, guys), she has finally made it to HR director and loves her position. She humbly said that she does not have ill will towards any of her bosses over the years, but that she knew if she stayed humble and persevered and worked hard that she would eventually get the job she deserved.

Every day when she had to dress differently and leave her whole self at home to fit a role in a job she was overqualified for, she would ask herself “what am I leaving at home today when I go to work?” She asked her son the same question about going to school. Then she decided that enough was enough and she needed to be the catalyst in building cultural bridges in her workplace and in her son’s school. After years of not being herself, she was finally ready to put in the extra work and reach out to build understanding among those that were rejecting her and her son.

Her motto was “do it with peace, never give up.” She tells her son that when he is teased or a teacher does not understand why he acts a certain way (aka according to his culture). She does not wish to proliferate hatred among people, but peace. And the best way to do that is to do everything with peace and never give up.

These words resonated with me, and I like to apply them to my daily life and individual struggles. I also like to think about how I bend myself to “fit” certain perceptions of how I should act in certain situations.

How much of yourself do you leave at home when you go _____________? Refuse to mold, refuse to bend, but also refuse to generate hatred and tension because of your differences. Take a humble approach: do it with peace, and never give up.