Henry David Thoreau once said, “the price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
I’ve heard this quoted many times throughout my life. Of all the mantras that I try to live by, it is quite possibly the most important to me.
I’m 32. I know I have readers that are teenagers and readers that are in their eighties. To some I am a boy with most of my life left to live. To others I’m so far over the hill, you can’t even see the top of my head anymore. But to you young’uns (and by that, I mean those that are a lot younger than me), please don’t be offended when I say… you probably won’t fully get this post until you’re older. You may appreciate it, but you won’t fully get it. Not until you’ve passed the point in life where you really, internally realize that life not only doesn’t slow down… it runs out. And if you’re like most people, that realization won’t happen till you’re probably about 30. For some much later than that.
But no matter your age, and no matter your wealth, and no matter your health, and no matter your popularity, the clock keeps moving. Seconds keep ticking. Minutes keep accumulating. Hours turn into days which somehow turn into years. Decades begin lying themselves mercilessly across the gaps of your mind. Indeed, the older one gets, the more quickly time accumulates. Until one day, time runs out.
Now, close your eyes and count out ten seconds in your mind.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
Those are ten seconds that you will never get back, my friend. Never. No matter how much you want them back, no matter how much you need them back, and no matter how big a difference it would make for you to get them back, they’re gone. You can not get those seconds back. Nobody can. It’s one of the greatest ways that every person on Earth is equal. Nobody can rewind the clock. Money can’t rewind the clock. Power can’t rewind the clock. Neither can popularity, love, hate, anger, or happiness.
Those ten seconds took you ten seconds closer to your death. They took me ten seconds closer to my death. In fact, every person on this planet, including those that entered the world at the very moment you started counting, ended those seconds ten seconds closer to their own deaths.
Some people even died while you were counting out those seconds. Some people didn’t have ten seconds left to give. After all, every person has their last ten seconds.
And so, now you see why it is that “time” is listed as the greatest commodity by the greatest thinkers of all time.
They all understood very well that money can be replaced.
Gold and silver and other precious materials can be replaced.
Gadgets and toys can be replaced.
Organs and limbs can be replaced.
Cars can be replaced.
Friendships can be replaced.
Relationships can be replaced.
Even family can be replaced.
What can’t be replaced is time. Ever. Not for anybody.