Originally appeared in the Wildwood Sun by the Sea magazine
Ben Franklin once said, “Time is Money.” Ben could have used a little time by the sea, where time is not measured in dollars and cents, but by the ebb and flow of the tides. After all, who can put a price on a day spent doing little more than staring out into the ocean (except, of course, the ice cream man, who’s gotta make a living?) Ancient Egyptian Ptahnotpe one-upped the former economist when he was credited as stating, “The wasting of time is an abomination to the spirit.” He, too, could have used a day surrounded by saltwater and sandcastles. Maybe then he would have realized that spirits could only soar when inspired. Inspiration is rarely found in the tasks checked off, one by one, a “to do” list (unless it’s a “to do” list about what “to do” at the shore). Instead, it exists in lazy days and quiet walks. “To do” lists can wait when there are sandcastles needing to be built. Eventually the tide comes in, washing away each sandcastle, leaving behind their faded imprint only in the minds of the people who built them. Yet, is their value any less because their results are no longer visible to the eye?
Adair Lara, author of “Slowing Down in a Speeded Up World,” learned a valuable life lesson early on thanks to her mom. Mother to seven children, she avoided the convenience of a clothes dryer, preferring the quiet reflection she achieved through hanging laundry. Instead of complaining about a never-ending job, she thought about the child each article of clothing belonged to. Rather than be a slave to the passage of time, she found inspiration in its passing and meaning in what most others consider mundane.
Sue Bender, author of the book, “Plain and Simple,” states, “Satisfaction came from giving up wishing I was doing something else.”
Too often time is spent thinking about what comes next. Bender suggests that time is better spent valuing what’s in front of us, whatever it may be, as opposed to what lies ahead (which we can never really be sure). While there is still a need for “to do” lists (everyday can’t revolve around the beach), Bender’s philosophy finds each activity, no matter how small, as serving a greater purpose. She believes that all moments are important (not just the moments spent covered in suntan lotion and sand). Always looking ahead to more supposedly important things means never truly seeing what’s in front of us.
Each day has its own incalculable value no matter how it is spent. But if a price could be put on time, then isn’t time at the shore all the more valuable?