“A free man possesses time.” – Erling Kagge
Alarm clocks. Time clocks. Clocks on our wrists. Clocks on our phones.
Paper calendars. Electronic calendars. Internet-enabled calendars.
Factory whistles. School bells. Meeting notifications.
Constant reminders of the many ways time is passing by – by the minute, by the hour, by the day. We’ve developed many different ways to measure the passage of time. It’s just as important that we recognize the value of time.
My least favorite memes on social media are the different takes on how everyone is allotted the same amount of time each day. They may take the form of “Would you let someone steal $84,600 from you?” (the number of seconds in a day), or “Everyone has 24 hours in a day, the difference is how you choose to use them.”
While it’s true that time passes at the same rate for everyone, we don’t all have the same number of hours available to us. We have responsibilities that take up much of our day – work, family, friends and travel. Often forgotten is sleep – which changes for each individual – some people need 6 to 8 hours, while others need more to be effective and healthy.
If a person works 9 hours a day, takes an hour to travel each way to work, dedicates a combined 3 hours to family matters, and sleeps 8 hours a night, they only have about 2 hours of free time available a day. Many people cut down on their sleep, but then usually work more hours. Many people have to take care of someone else’s needs, further limiting time for themselves.
2 hours – less than 10% of the 24 hours that it takes for the Earth to make a complete rotation on its axis. It may be even less. That’s a precious resource, a resource to be valued.
It would be arrogant to dictate how you should use the brief moments of freedom in your life. We all have different passions, interests and needs. We may choose to be with others, with just one person, or to be alone. We may pursue intellectual or athletic pursuits, broaden our experiences or learn more about a specific subject, attend a play or watch the repeat of a silly comedy that makes us laugh.
Or, perhaps we do nothing, catching up on much needed rest.
The choices are ours, and ours alone.
The time – the seconds, minutes and hours – is ours as well. The time isn’t free, but a valuable treasure that we’ve earned. Time we should prize and appreciate its worth.