Time is the Most Underrated Luxury

I met a new friend recently, who has travelled to 100 countries.  He works for half of the year, and the other half is spent travelling the world.  This setup of his has been going on for quite some time, and he’s quite proud of it.  As we talked of his lifestyle, he said something to me that stuck with me: “Time is the most underrated luxury.”  I couldn’t help but nod in agreement with this statement.

We are aware that time is something that we complain about in the Western world, that we never have enough of.  There’s not enough time to finish up our work load, chores, spend with friends, family, or self.  If you were totally in control of your time, how would you spend it?  Would try to get more sleep?  Travel the world? Be with your partner or loved ones?  What would you do with that gift of gold.  In comparison, he shared that in some third world countries he has visited, time is abundant.  Yet some of the people he has interacted with were wasteful of it.  They had such excess of it, they didn’t know what to do with it.  As he talked of his life, he discussed the importance of balance.  We want to be in control of our time and schedules, but not spend it foolishly, as one may do if they unexpectedly won the lottery. 

It’s an interesting concept to reflect on.  The past year I have left my traditional job, and own how I spend most of my days.  But even with this, I can’t help but wonder, where does time go? How am I spending my days?  I don’t feel time is wasted, but it is elusive.  It escapes me.  We want to be intentional with how we use it, but we don’t want to overplan every minute.  There must be space in our time for the spontaneous moments of life to arise.  As I look at this past year, the way I view time has changed.  In one year, I have fit in plentiful moments with friends, families, and strangers.  I didn’t really go to new places, but lived in new countries: France and Spain.  My holidays were spent visiting loved ones.  Collective moments were shared, new memories were made, and none of it was done in a wasteful manner.  I understand now why people take gap years or sabbaticals.  There’s a lifetime to be lived in the span of 365 days.  

How do you plan to spend your time in 2023?

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” – Marthe Troly-Curtin

Luxury Latte

A coffee purchase has always been a special treat that wasn’t a daily task, but a weekly splurge.  This is different when I travel, and don’t have my own luxuries at hand.  I buy coffee frequently when I am on the road, as a way to merge with the time zone I am residing in, get wifi, or even as a way to bond with my mom over a latte.  

But what has happened to people and their caffeine purchases?  Starbucks drive thrus are the rage in American suburbs.  And when you enter the infamous facilities in NYC, there are less and less Starbucks that have tables.  People aren’t standing at an espresso bar taking their espresso shops with other customers.  They are taking their orders and leaving.    People have a mobile order, enter a coffee shop wearing headphones, search for their printed name on cups, and do not even have to greet the baristas or any other people in the shop.  Human interaction and engagement is limited.   

What has happened?  I think what many coffee chains have turned into is simply adrenaline stations. It’s as if everyone has morphed into zombies and this is a zombie station.  We travel to and from work uber caffeinated.  We are paying loads for a caffeine boost, but do we even taste what we are drinking anymore?  Although espresso has caffeine in it and it definitely fuels you, the point of drinking a latte is to drink it slow.  Mobile orders are the rage here in America.  The world is not immune.  I recognize people opt for Uber Eats deliveries at my local Parisian Starbucks.  

Is cafe culture dead? 

  If I could, I would sit in coffee shops for hours.  But it seems others do not look forward to this.  They want a packaged prompt drink, not a crafted experience that takes time to appreciate.  This is all an example of time poverty.  We may be an affluent culture that can spend money on luxury items, but many are lacking the luxury of time.  This is a concept in positive psychology called time affluence.  We feel we are abundant with time in our lives.  This concept is not reserved solely for the youth or the retired.  Anyone can have it?  It’s how you interact and engage with time, with your commutes, with your loved ones, and even with your latte.

So next time you order a latte, slow down and drink it, maybe even while sitting in a café.  

Fall Into Productivity

            Several days ago I returned from a week long journey to Spain for the Camino de Finisterre.  I was only gone one week, but it seemed as if when I returned it was to a different season.  Autumn has have arrived in Paris.  Streets are full again, all are back from vacances.  The air is cooler, people are wearing leather or puffy coats, boots.  This may be a bit extreme.  The weather is bordering on 60s-70s Fahrenheit (16 to 20 degrees Celsius), it appears that people are eager to allow their fall attire to emerge.  But it seems that people not only want to display their new wardrobe but they also want to exhibit their new found motivation. 

It’s mid September, now people access new found energy for productivity.  Perhaps this is because there are only several months remaining in the year to ensure they hit their annual goals.  Or now that vacation has passed, they can fire up another aspect of themselves.  The get s$it done version.  I am not simply noticing this in others, I am observing this in myself.  

During the hot summer months, we seem to feel as if time expands.  Sunlight is plentiful, our days are actually longer.  We take time for granted because there is an abundance of it, but when September hits things shift.  It’s harvest season, and not only do farmers harvest their crops, but we attempt to harvest time.  This has now become difficult to grasp.  

Time is elusive.  There is a finality to what the year has in store, and knowing this we begin to question what do we want to do with this time left.  What do you want to do with the remaining 100 days?    

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back. “-Harvey Mackay