Today was Claire’s birthday. At dinner we were discussing life and our personalities and relationship, you know, like you do. I think we arrived at an interesting insight. We are complimentary (a nice way of saying we disagree) on thrift and extravagance.
She is thrifty where I tend to be extravagant, and I am thrifty where she tends to be extravagant. It’s important to qualify what follows by recognizing that we’re talking in broad terms about the things we tend toward, not suggesting that we’re both especially consistent, or thorough in those tendencies. It just turns out that I’m a price shopper, who will make efforts to get a good deal, where Claire is glad to spend money for convenience, fun, or just because it’s not worth worrying about. And I am willing to go without sleep and spend time on a project or conversation not worrying about any shortage of time, while she’s measuring how many hours of sleep, and how much time is spent on work, and how much we have left for leisure. Let me qualify again that this is a glittering generality. Still it was interesting to discuss and consider.
Money and time are different. Both are chips that we measure the game of life against. How much time and money do you have, that’s more or less how well you’re doing in the game of life. I think we tend to focus on money because we can change the amount by dint of effort, while time doesn’t seem so movable. That makes me wonder, though, how abundance of money (enough that we can stop focusing on it for a few minutes) might cause our focus to shift to time, and what that might do overall. I suspect the shift might be healthy. Recognizing that things are no good, if you don’t have time to enjoy them. Helping people who have more than enough slow down and enjoy what they have, rather than pushing and grasping to get what they don’t really have time to enjoy. And in that context how can we start to be more intentional about time, it is, after all, our most fixed and limited resource in the big picture context.
In the end, I think it’s good that Claire and I are “complimentary.” I have learned to be more generous with money, and I think she’s learned to be more generous with time. And the flip is also true, she pays more attention to price, and I to my hours that are slipping away. We will probably never change our fundamental orientations, but I think we can balance each other as we course our way through life. And hence love is the force that helps us to grow forward, balancing the resources of life into a fulfilling balance that allows us find a way to have enough and to share–with both time and money.