They say that you make time for the things that matter. Really? In some ways that is true, but I have to say that a good portion of my life is spent on things that don’t matter to me in any major sense, but that I have to do. If my life were about the things that really matter to me, I’d certainly spend less time at work.
It’s not that my job is unimportant or that I dislike it. It’s just that in the larger view of life it isn’t very meaningful. It is something that is necessary to provide the source of funds for food, clothing and shelter. Beyond that, it does provide some challenges which are good for the intellect and growth – but generally it is just repetition of skills already learned and honed. Most of the mental stimulation I get in life comes from other sources.
Even those things I choose to pursue often end up dictating more of my life than I intended. When you join organizations and are active in them, you find that you need to attend meetings even when you’d rather do something else at that particular time. Sometimes an escape turns into an obligation. Sometimes what you get out is not longer worth what you put in.
So, it isn’t really true that you make time for the things that matter. A lot of times you know that what you are doing or about to do doesn’t really matter, but you have to do it. Some could argue that those things you have to do are things that matter simply because they are necessary. I don’t see it that way. Necessary and meaningful are not one in the same and I view the ‘things that matter’ as meaning the ‘things that are meaningful’. It’s all semantics, I suppose.
When you stop to think of all the time you spend working to support the goliath that is government (estimates put it at roughly 40% of the fruits of your labor go to taxes at one level or another of government), you realize that even the time you spend working isn’t even all necessary. Roughly 21 weeks or 830 hours of the time you spend working produces nothing directly for you – it all goes to government at some level or another and most of that is wasted or spent on things from which you get no real benefit. Go ahead and try to argue that all that money taken by the government is efficiently and reasonably spent on necessary things that have a direct positive value to every taxpayer at least equal to the amount they paid in. Go ahead. I’m not worried you’ll prove me wrong.
Now think of all the time you spend conforming to society. For example, how much time do you spend shopping for clothes you don’t really need and that cost more than they are really worth? How much time did it take you to earn the money you are spending on them? In other words, how much time did you expend in order to ‘look right’? Think of all the products you buy that really are all for that purpose. Sure, maybe you like those things, but because you were conditioned to like them. But you know as well as I that they are not meaningful things and the time you spend obtaining, caring for, apply or earning money for them is all time that is essentially wasted.
How about the time you spend exercising? It is all a waste of time. Now, now, don’t get all upset and start rattling off health benefits. Of course it is good for you, but it is only necessary because the rest of your daily routine is so unhealthy. The food you eat, the job you work, the entertainment you enjoy all contributes to a lifestyle that is so unhealthy that you need to set aside a block of time for physical movement. Think about that for a moment. You spend money and time specifically for the purpose of moving your limbs around for a set period of time. How insane is that? Workout clothes, gym memberships or home equipment all cost money which you have to earn working. Again, time spent working to support time spent exercising because you didn’t have time to do any normal physical activity in a day. Anyone starting to see a pattern here?
If you could cut all the nonsense out of your life: taxes, social conformity, regimented exercise, etc. and just live your life you could live on roughly half as much as you make now, i.e. work half as much as you do now. If you worked only half as much, you’d have time for so many things that really matter.
Unfortunately, taxes aren’t going anywhere and that’s the biggest drain on your earnings and therefore biggest factor compelling you to work 40 or more hours in a week. That means that you need clothes for work which cost you more money meaning more time working. That means you need to have set exercise times, which means more clothes, equipment or a membership which means more money which means more work.
All of that means that you have less time for your interests, your family and your personal growth. The only way to make more time for those things is to rob it from the hours available for rest. How many of us regularly do that? We trade a few hours of sleep fairly often in order to spend time with friends or family, read a book, pursue a hobby or whatever. That’s how we ‘make time’ and the cost of that time is quite high. It affects our health and can wear us down and burn us out so that we don’t even enjoy the things that matter anymore.
This post may seem like a bit of a downer. It isn’t meant to be. It is meant to encourage you to stop and look at the life you are living and ask yourself if you are living for yourself or not.
It’s not too late to refocus your life. It’s not too late to really make time for what’s important by cutting out what isn’t instead of robbing time from necessary rest. The only thing stopping you is money. How much of it do you spend on things that don’t really matter but that you use because they bring quick pleasure in your otherwise unmeaningful life? If you were doing the things that matter to you, you wouldn’t need most of those things anymore. You wouldn’t need the money to spend on them. You wouldn’t need to spend so much time making that money.
Of course, it’s just easier to just keep going as usual. Then when the end is near, you can lament all the things you didn’t do.