On Monday, I got a new tattoo. I went to my favorite studio in Brooklyn, New York (Gristle) and saw my favorite artist (Anka). I got a clock face with no hands.
It represents something deeply meaningful to me: the idea that time is our most valuable resource, the thing that we should maximize on the most.
I came across this quote in March while listening to the audio book version of ‘Vagabonding’ by Rolf Potts:
“By switching to a new game, which in this case involves vagabonding, time becomes the only possession and everyone is equally rich in it by biological inheritance. Money, of course, is still needed to survive, but time is what you need to live. So, save what little money you possess to meet basic survival requirements, but spend your time lavishly in order to create the life values that make the fire worth the candle.”
– Ed Buryn
I love this so much, and it’s an idea I want to build a life on.
The more I have been around people who value possessions or money, the less appealing that lifestyle seems. Never have I seen this more clearly than when we chose to get rid of everything and live out of backpacks. Shockingly, having 2 shirts did nothing to my self-worth or ego. In fact, having so few clothing options and items to keep up with has allowed me to free my mind and focus on where I am, who I am with, and what I am doing, with clarity and without distraction.
I’ve spent the last 2 years learning how to be poor. We lived on less than $18,000 (taxable income) for a year, and last year we lived on less than $10,00 (taxable income) for the year – without borrowing money, using government assistance, or going into debt, and while Stephen was in university.
These years living in frugality have incidentally been the happiest years of my life. And while you could credit it to being ‘young and in love’, this time has also been spent learning what is truly important.
We never ate out. I didn’t get my nails done. We never went shopping. We never bought new clothes. Stephen cycled everywhere to save money on gas. We rarely spent money on entertainment. And we were not too proud to accepted gifts when they were given.
We also had a LOT of fun.
We went on 7 trips to places like New York City, Washington, D.C.., Los Angeles, Austin, and Orlando. We learned to find free entertainment, and how to be entrepreneurial.
We worked hard and played harder, and found that we didn’t even miss shopping malls, perfect manicures, or keeping up with our friends as they bought new cars and houses.
Instead, we learned that by manipulating our resources we could focus completely on the things we deemed worthy of our time. We learned that time is the only true possession and that we were certifiably rich in it.
These experiences and lessons truly prepared us for travel and encouraged me as a writer; I can honestly say I have put my money where my mouth is.
Time. It all comes back to time.
Money is a resource but time is the substance of life.