Our Most Precious Resource

Time passes by quick. I do one thing or another, this or that, hesitate, pause to think, and it’s gone. I woke up this morning at 9:30, seemed a reasonable time to get up on a day without much scheduled (I have a lot of those days), it’s now 12:09. I managed to fill two hours and 39 minutes with writing my morning journal (three to four pages of stream of conscious writing), I did a little reading from a book of essays Measure Yourself Against the Earth by Mark Kingwell, and then I sorted the recycling (which is a fucking nightmare-my house-mates can’t differentiate garbage and recycling-they’re engineering students so I suppose their minds are occupied with larger puzzles). Two and a half hours in the wind, never to be had again.

“There’s an hour and a half I won’t get back,” is a common expression uttered by people, most often after they’ve watched a movie or done something, like waiting for a doctor’s appointment, which felt like a complete waste of time. Time, at least relative to our finite life-spans, is a non-renewable resource like oil or diamonds. We’re encouraged to donate large chunks of our limited time throughout life; First, to our education (which is valuable), then to supporting ourselves (which is necessary), finally to making someone or, if we’re lucky, ourselves wealthy.

Does it make sense to sell such a valuable resource so cheap? Are we being conned? One argument for selling your time very cheaply, say for $12.00 an hour, is that it’s a precursor to higher earnings later in life and a necessary step to learning life skills, work ethic, and managing responsibility; but work experience at a lower income doesn’t directly entail working for a higher income.

A person who must move from city to city, continuously switching between jobs, is at the mercy of local job markets and the employers in the various cities the person occupies. This person could stay at the same income (or make less at consecutive jobs) for some time, because they’re never able, for whatever personal reasons, to remain in one position long enough to earn the rewards from being loyal to one employer. The argument put forth against this could be that the person should make a priority of remaining in one position, but what if they are moving to support a loved one with a terminal illness. Yes, there may be forms of social welfare for people in these situations, but they’re forced to rely on this assistance, because their career is never able to develop in such a way as to earn more.

The importance of work can’t be over stated. Work combats idleness (which can lead to illness), and gives life purpose, but our ideas about work are as susceptible to perversion as our ideas about sex. A person having an afternoon drink on the weekend to relax or celebrate accomplishments is being responsible, but when that person begins to drink every afternoon it becomes pathological. The same excessive behavior apparent in someone who over drinks or abuses other substances, is ignored in the person who over works. The person pulling a sixty-hour work week is regarded heroically, the person who manages their life to be less reliant on material is often regarded contemptuously as being lazy.

A person who makes use of charity, although they may still contribute a great deal to society (i.e. the couch hopping artist) is frowned upon, but the CEO who earns millions at a company responsible for environmental degradation is idealized, because they “earn their living,” even though it may be at the expense of society and the natural environment. What kind of strange morality is this?

What I ignore in my thinking is that it’s human nature to compete, and to place ourselves on some level above other people. Equally difficult is imagining another earthly way of operating a system where (1.) people have equity, (2.) are free to fairly compete, and (3.) have a motivation to be and remain productive. Communism in theory met the first requirement and democracy in theory meets all three requirements; so when did the quality of a life begin losing out to the quantity of production and consumption? More importantly, how did our democracy lose the ability to meet those requirements?

How did we allow competition to become so one-sided? How did we allow life to become so inequitable as to require so many forms of social welfare? It is because we no longer live in a democracy, but a coporat-ocracy.

Well, enough of this line of questioning for now. My mind reels and none of this is news to the active observer as the questions have been raised before ad nauseam. The above reasoning more or less answers my question about being conned. Yes, we are being conned but it’s nearly, if not, impossible to finger the blame on any party, leaving most of us with the feeling of being fucked from every direction. I’m filled with a Thompson-esque paranoia and loathing, not fueled by drugs, but I never -the -less feel like screaming out in the hotel lobby for no good God damn reason at all.

I will sum up my thoughts on time, our most precious resource with three thoughts to leave you with:

(1.) Don’t be a corporate whore.
(2.) Have some fun (masturbate, play chess, kick a soccer ball around, etc).
(3.) Repair our democracy, it’s fucking broken.

 

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