Time or money: which should one to strive to posses?


Climbers in their natural habitat. Photo: Matthew Sapiecha.

     Finding a balance between having money and having time may be one of the more important problems of this generation. Having money is equated with happiness, though the two are separate. It surely gives a sense of security, having a stockpile of cash that can be turned into whatever wants or needs that a person has. With time you can make money, but you also have the liberty of choosing whatever it is that would fulfill you most at that moment, or at least what you think would fulfill you most. With many people time can spiral into meaninglessness and depression, as they are unsure, or unable to do activities or projects with that time that bring them happiness. Trading money for time is how many of us trade our lives to this/that corporation or industry, being compensated for our time with some cash incentive.

     Money may be the single most damaging thing to the environment. After all, look at the tribes in the middle of the Amazon which have no money, and are in balance with their surroundings. When money comes into the picture, it takes the shape of a ruptured oil pipeline polluting a river, or a bulldozer making way for a coffee plantation.

     The more money one makes, the more resources that person will tend to use. There will be excesses of waste wherever there is excesses of money. The United States is a good example of this. We will build ten thousand square feet houses for two people to live in. With enough money, maybe you can have three of these, in each of your favorite states. We will fly to Mexico, Florida, and the British Virgin Islands in a years time because we have enough money to pay the airlines for their fuel. Our dollar has more value than many other countries, so we import our tomatoes and peppers from poorer countries. Sometimes we pay immigrants low wages, as in California, to grow and harvest all of our fruits and vegetables. The value of the money is more to them in their own country, so they don’t mind. How many resources are being squandered because of excessive money. How many bathroom remodels. How many fridges, stoves, microwaves, and washing machines are just called outdated and put on the curb. How many people are installing TV’s, one on the wall of every room. How many bikes are idle, chains becoming stiff with red rust.

     Money isn’t all bad, but tends toward squandering resources (perhaps because we need stuff to give us momentary happiness). Some money is spent as salary for people mixing test tubes in labs and finding molecules that will halt cancer in its tracks, or renew the myelin sheath’s around nerves, or rebuild the cleft pallet of a newborn. It can be used to repair the ecological devastation caused by the mining and development that created it(money from ecological exploitation) in the first place. It can make computers available to every child, allowing for infinite learning potential. It can buy art supplies. Most importantly, it can buy time.

     So why are we chasing money so we can have that two month trip to Thailand? It is the people we surround ourselves with that truly bring happiness anyhow. Why not just use all that time to spend with them, playing cards or growing a garden, rather than striving to make more money. We could ride bikes or walk through the forest smelling flowers, but we sit behind a desk and dream of what it will be like when we get to the white sand covered beaches with palm trees everywhere. When we arrive, we are antsy, and the relationships with those that we brought along are still strained from the late nights at work and the stresses of being a cog in the production wheel.

     When we as a society want to focus again on relationship centered structure, having a balance with the natural world, I will want to participate. Until then, I will try to make just enough money to buy time to spend with the people that matter most to me. Here’s to you not buying anything the rest of the day, and instead having a nice conversation with someone you love. 

Jordan Moore and Myself on Astrodog, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, a few years back. Photo: Chris Kalous.


Author: Ronjohn

When I take a deep look at my ego, I see that it defines itself as a recreation bum. I ski, hike, rock climb, kayak, raft, sail, stand up paddle, mountain bike, rock climb again. I grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado. I am a vagabond extraordinaire.

2 thoughts on “Time or money: which should one to strive to posses?”

  1. Your topic is something I think about a lot. If you haven’t already read “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn I highly recommend. Essentially we live in a taker culture (vs. tribal leaver culture) and our culture is running on a monetary system (socialists and communists included). Making matters even more precarious in our monetary system is that most of the money isn’t even real and only exists in a virtual electronic world which is even worse than when we used mostly toilet paper. Hope you’ve made it home safely.

    1. I remember reading “Ishmael” when I had arrived in San Diego on the USS Ronald Reagan. I believe that you were the one who gave me the copy! Very insightful.

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