Imagine you wake up one morning to find a stack of 24 crisp 100 dollar bills waiting for you. To spend however you wish. If hours were dollars.
You shower, make coffee, check email, get dressed, comb your hair, head to work. Later, you make dinner, eat dinner, clean the kitchen. Half the stack gone now. Spent. The way you wanted? Or was it Groundhog day?
80% of people in westernized countries hate the work they do. I get it; we have bills to pay. But where, then, do we eke out precious moments for the things that make our heart sing. And do we even know what those are?
I thought I did. Once upon a time. Always been crazy proud of my work. Still am, I think. But what do I know? Maybe it’s all just people pleasing. When you take a client from 28,000 to 6 figures, or even 5,000 per month to 15,000 — praise flows like honey. They call you a rock star. And you kind of like it.
So you take the too seldom vacation and buy the leather shoes, and get the shiny new computer with the 28 inch monitor. All the better to do your job, right? Or maybe just to feed that hungry, hungry ego, you rock star, you.
But is that really how you want to spend your one and only life?
As the crisp bills paid out by the good life fairy fade into nothingness, over and over again, day after day, I am no longer sure. It seems the more I learn, the less I’m sure of.
I think of summer days spent traipsing down by the river. Wind in my hair and camera in my hands, yet oblivious to both as I silently watched the heron, skinny legs poking out of crashing waves. Watching, waiting until he scoops and emerges victorious, silvery fish still wiggling in his beak and snap — got it!
Nose red, fingers stiff with cold, snowflakes falling on hood, hands, camera — and still I don’t move. Watching the mountain lion pacing, pacing, pacing. Waiting for her to become comfortable enough with my presence that maybe, I hope, she will look the camera square in the eye. Look! She does, she does! Snowflakes on tawny fur, eyes icy as the winter sky.
And I ask myself, how do I want to spend the currency that is my life? The day to day disappears so quickly. Thoughtlessly, almost. Perhaps it’s just as well. Regret comes too soon anyway.
“You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine...”
Wild Geese. Mary Oliver makes me weep.
Those bills. A stack for every day, yes, but how many stacks? How many days? The sun rose 36,548 times for George Burns. For James Dean, 8,760 times.
We’ll spend 6500 of them just growing up, most of us, but only because we won the birthplace lottery. In Sub-Saharan Africa, half of all children born will not see their fifth birthday. It makes my heart ache to think of this.
And me? The sun has risen over 20,000 times for me already. If I am lucky, I might see the sun rise 12,000 more times. But how will I spend them?
I read an article that told of researchers chasing curiosities. Using age progression software, they showed people photos of themselves in their golden years. “Future you is depending on you, today…” they said.
Clutching photos of their aged selves, they vowed to spend less, save more of their hard earned dollars — and most of them even followed through.
But I wonder… why are we so blithe about how we spend the other currency? We? Never mind we. Why am I? That’s what I want to know.
A merry little tone interrupts my pondering to let me know I have email.
Linda? Directors are looking for 8% increase. When are you free?
When am I free?
It’s a good question.
If you liked this (or my photos!) I’d sure appreciate if you’d share or heart.