168 Hours

Each week until death, we are equally gifted 168 hours to spend on family, recreation, work, exercise, rest, and leisure.  Work tends to dominate the majority of the waking hours and like a virus it infects the body of life. The average person is now compensated with $51,000 in exchange for this time. Some more, many less. The time commitment seems to increase dramatically at each end of the pay spectrum.

I remember graduating from college and getting my first real job at Micron Technology.  I began with an entry level job in the sales department.  I thought it was the greatest company in the entire universe and spent the first two years working on weekends and never taking a single day of vacation.  All of this to get ahead of my peers , make more money, and get a bit more power in the company.  This ended about nine years after it began and I found myself in the uncomfortable position of starting over.  At the time, it was heartbreaking.  In retrospect, one of the luckiest moments of my entire life.

I am still slowly reading The Wise Heart and found another passage that needs to be shared:

Thomas Merton once advised a young activist, “Do not depend on the hope of results…. you may have to to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect.  As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.”   By aligning our dedication with our highest intention, we chart the course of our whole being.  Then no matter how hard the voyage and how big the setbacks, we know where we are headed.

I would encourage everyone to take a long deep breath and really analyze what you are doing on a daily basis in exchange for all of this time.  I know that we all need food, shelter, and kids need college money.  There is a lifetime of advertising that sells a tall tale about a life that exists when resources are deployed for certain things.  It may be the hot sex life associated with a shiny red Ferrari, the status of belonging to an overpriced social club, or the perceived greatness of living in a small castle that greatly exceeds the oversized size of your neighbor’s smaller castle. That game is insatiable.

Each year in July several hundred of the most exclusive business, entertainment, and political titans converge for a four day conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.  They comically arrive one at a time on jets made to carry armies.  The second tier of the first tier have to park their billionaire hotrods at neighboring airports.  The cool ones park in Hailey, ID next to Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.  For the past seven years, I spent the first two weeks of July in the same city living in a tiny rented hovel.  While they plot to conquer the world, I conquer the hills on my mountain bike.  I have seen the perceived “fantasy life” up close and can assure you that is looks better from afar on two wheels.

If you want true freedom, sit down and analyze how you spend your time and where you spend your money.  Time flies at an accelerated pace.  In the rear view mirror, the important things rarely include career.  Do not wake up each morning to  chase the brass ring when it is already in your palm.