What is your time worth?Written by Sage Kohen

This is a loaded question that begs for answers beyond oversimplified monetary measures and vast inventories of stuff. Might I be bold enough to claim that a wage essentially undermines how we value the brief time we are here and what we do with the precious time we are given? We often shortchange our highest purpose by gauging value and self-worth via printed dollars and what we can buy with them rather than first seeking to discover our “calling” and be of service to people and planet.

Time is the most valuable, yet intangible, asset we possess. I, like so many others, often fall into the trap of trying to buy time by working for it. This thinking becomes a slippery slope, leading us further from the truth of why we are here and what we are here to do, because there never seems to be enough time or money to quench our desires. More often than not, we find ourselves in the hustle and bustle of life, forced into positions and schedules that deaden the voice of Spirit, daydreaming about when we will have enough money and time to finally do the things we’ve been dreaming of. The unfortunate thing is that this time might never arrive … unless we claim it!

Our sense of time has become captive to the almighty dollar and skewed value systems that don’t take into account the deeper meanings of why we are here on the earth in the first place. Debt essentially holds our time and our lives hostage. Debt is borrowed time, because until the debt is recovered, we are under the gun to pay it back or risk losing our homes, our transportation, and our ability to provide for our families. Ultimately, the acquisition of stuff only distracts us from discovering the true gems of existence, which can’t be bought, sold, or borrowed.

Time is money, the idiom suggests. In order to do just about anything in this world these days, one must pay for it. I often envision what the world would be like if it weren’t ruled by dollars and cents. As I observe global politics, transnational business, and the health of the planet, I am mesmerized by how those making the most profit are also causing the greatest and most senseless harm to the earth and to future generations’ collective inheritance. Time spent destroying a watershed receives greater reward than time spent restoring a watershed back to health. How is this logical or eco-logical?

When I observe every wild creature on this planet—from birds to bees to dolphins—work and play are the same, and every action works in brilliant symbiosis with a greater ecology. The birds sing, whether they are hungry or full, in danger or in love. They take only what they need, and their time is fully theirs to do with as they wish. They know their purpose so deeply, so intrinsically, that they do not have to spend time questioning or struggling with it. Bees do not complain when pollen coats their legs and they must buzz a mile back to the hive to make honey. Yet we often find ourselves exhausted driving home from work and too tired to prepare dinner, play with our children, or bask in the miraculous sunset.

We are told from a very young age that, in order to be of worth, we must sell our time (i.e. get a job). So from a very young age, children are schooled on how to be the best workers possible. They are given tests to assess how valuable they are, and with their degrees of success come a variety of roles they are eligible to fill within society. Amidst the many boxes of education, childhood dreams are often skimmed down to a few multiple-choice answers.

From the moment we step into school, we are schooled on how we are to behave in this world. Dreamers are often ridiculed in classrooms for sitting in the back and looking out the window. The most astute classmates are given rewards for their attentiveness while the child gazing out the window, watching the birds play in the trees, is reprimanded and given an “F.”

I am by no means against working for a living or receiving the best education possible, though I do believe that we should all be given the opportunity to discover what we love to do—wholeheartedly and without compromise—and be embraced in the undertaking. We should all be educated (by example!) on what it means to live a meaningful life and given the space to uncover what really matters to us. If every child’s dreams were embraced, the world would be full of innovators, stewards, and visionaries, and happiness would abound because everyone would be encouraged to live their dreams to the fullest, no matter how eccentric or simple-minded their dreams are.

Some folks love working under cars, taking things apart and putting them back together. Others love wandering the far reaches of the earth with just a backpack, a notebook, and a camera. Whatever your dreams are, don’t wait for them to come to you. We only have so many seasons in life to see these dreams through!

This article was provided by the World Peace Gardens, a nonprofit foundation which holds nonsectarian gatherings to promote world peace and sustainable living. Gatherings are every Sunday at 11:30 a.m. at Green Valley Spa, 1871 W. Canyon View Dr., St. George, Utah 84770. Admission is free. For more information, find them online at www.W-P-G.org, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/worldpeacegardens, and on Meetup at www.meetup.com/World-Peace-Gardens, or call (435) 703-0077.