A few years back I was an Engineer for Boeing. As a company they had a vacation payment program, sick pay and other financial benefits. I watched people work the maximum hours for weeks, months and even years on end. I watched people take the minimum vacation required and never take any sick pay days, even when they were sick as a “dog”.
These people were thinking with their bank account, not their heart. The most important thing in these folks life was the money. Time off and visiting a place or doing some activity they’ve always wanted to do was not even a passing thought. People like this are living in an endless “loop”. To them it’s about the money. They can save the unused vacation time or get paid for it without using it. For the singular minded person this seems like a good idea. But at what cost? That’s right, I asked, “At what cost”?
You’ll hear these types talk about that new truck they’re going to get. Or how they’re remodeling the kitchen. They’ll talk about fishing on the days they’re forced to take off. It’s not like these are bad people or anything. But to me they’ve lost track of the “value of life”. They know the value of a dollar and what they can buy with it. But they’ve lost the value of their life.
This brings us to the question, what is the value of life? I will answer that question with a question. Each person has to answer this for themselves. Now the worker types I was discussing earlier, they think they’re pretty smart with financial rewards. But in the end, the very end just before their last breath, maybe they realize or question what “good” resulted from all the sacrifice and un-spendable money? What value does that money have to you at the very end?
Now I have to say I’m guilty of the same thing. Worked too many hours, ate horribly and just stressed myself to the breaking point scratching for that extra dollar of overtime. The years passed, but the days just ran into the next one. A seamless blur of work, stress and lack of sleep in an endless loop. I asked myself “Is this living”? “Is this life”? And finally “Is this all there is”?
Sadly, we all have a mental flaw where we believe we will live forever. You know “you’re” going to pass away someday, but not you, you’re going to live forever so you don’t have to worry like normal mortals. Then one day you realize you may have been wrong on that one. I guess we all have to think like that a little bit. If we didn’t, why would we work? Why would we do anything that wasn’t fun or exciting? So we have to be a little money crazy to build for the future. But we also need to be a little “time” crazy as well.
When I was younger, I got in this same loop, started three businesses before 25, working three jobs, two of which were self-imposed. My father came up to me asked what was more valuable, money or time. With a strange look on my face I said money. My father pointed out that we can always make another dollar, but we can’t make another minute of time. No matter how much money or influence, you can’t buy “time”. It seems as I get older these words have more meaning. The point being maybe we should measure our lives in “time”, the rarest commodity of all.
Through a variety of events and disasters I wound up in Puerto Vallarta about twenty years ago. I’ve had my ups and downs, but one thing I can say is that my time is no longer measured by money. I still work too much, but when I’m not working I’m in the middle of Puerto Vallarta, one of the “Coolest” places in the world! When I go fishing, I’m not chasing trout in the Seattle Rain. When I walk outside it’s hot in August, but it’s still Puerto Vallarta. I’ve stuck it out in financial hard times, pandemics, travel bans and lies about your safety in false press articles about Mexico and learning the subtleties of Mexican culture. Now you couldn’t drag me away from Puerto Vallarta. People tell me “I’m living the dream”. People are envious of my life and where I call home. Then they start to tell me how “Someday”. Someday they’re going to do something. Someday they’re going to sell the house and move to Vallarta. For many “someday” never comes because they’re too wrapped up in today. Or they “just can’t do it now” sort of thing.
It’s been proven that Vacations lower Stress. You live longer and you’re a happier person. You reconnect with family and lost friends as you break the compulsive daily agenda of making money. But it all comes down to the unknown. You know what you have, you just don’t know what you’re going to get. Something familiar even if uncomfortable is preferable to the unknown. To me this is amazing, if the “known” is killing you, then the unknown can’t be any worse, right?
There was a movie a few years back that described a ‘Bucket List”. A list of things this person wanted to do before his death. I think we all have a Bucket list, but we don’t check off the “life” activities or even think about them until our health goes south, then it may be too late.
Now you may see yourself in some of this article and that’s good. That’s why I wrote it. I’ve seen people work themselves to death and I’ve seen others know when to say “when”. I’ve seen unhealthy older people walking with mechanical assistance or in electric wheel chairs. Then I’ve also seen people with no money living happily, healthy and spiritually wealthy. The questions comes down to you, what do you want. Plan it out, then start working the plan. There is never enough time and the time we have has an expiration date. That’s right, just do it, take your time, use your time is a way that will make you happy, no matter what that means. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not guaranteed. Live in the present, in the “now”. Using this logic, if not now, then when?