Time is the only resource that matters
“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” — William Penn, “Some Fruits of Solitude”
As we listened to the rhythmic clip-clop of the horse drawing our taxi, I felt grateful to spend my time that way, sitting behind a somewhat surly driver telling slightly off-color jokes as he drove us down the hill away from the majestic Grand Hotel.
Last week, I spent two nights and three days on Mackinac Island, celebrating my birthday and my 11th wedding anniversary with my wife.
We did almost everything.
We shopped. We ate at some great restaurants (I highly recommend the mouthwatering fillet mignon at the Yankee Rebel Tavern). We visited and bought snacks for our room at Doud’s Market, which claims to be the oldest grocery store in America. We took the carriage tour to see Arch Rock and the Butterfly Conservatory. We hiked up to the Grand Hotel (no, we didn’t stay there) to take the $10 tour and then took that horse-drawn taxi back into town.
It rained practically the whole time, but nothing so terrible our umbrellas couldn’t keep us mostly dry. The air was cool but comfortable the whole time, and we enjoyed ourselves throughout our stay.
As we drove back home and Darby and I talked about our favorite parts of the trip, I realized I most enjoyed simply having the time.
The time to stroll down Main Street with my best friend and pop into the many shops, picking up a few souvenirs and other items and wishing we could afford a few others. The time to smell warm, sugary fudge overpowering the smell of horse droppings. The time to take photos of the many beautiful flowers adorning the yards and window boxes of the homes and hotels along the street. The time to sit unhurried in a restaurant at midday and enjoy an iced tea and a burger. The time to walk to the end of the road before it curves up the big bill and to look out over the rocky beach and over the straits to the big bridge looking ghostly in the distant rain fog.
Though I got a few phone calls from work because of crises in the office, I tried my best while on the island to not spend any more time than I had to worrying about things.
I made a conscious effort to be more present in the moment. I focused on the sights and smells around me. I focused on Darby. I focused on the tasks at hand and did all I could to put aside mainland worries.
I wanted to use as much time as I could for the island, and I didn’t want to spend much of that most precious resource worrying about things I couldn’t change.
Time, after all, is the only resource that really matters.
Money’s important, but it comes and goes and really can’t buy happiness. Health is more important than money, but it’s tied up with time (the healthier you are, the more time you’re likely to have on Earth). Earthly possessions are nice to have, but they’re the same as money in that they’re mostly temporary, except for some things you might leave to your kids for monetary or sentimental value.
But time, oh, time.
Time can buy happiness, and time can be a far more valuable gift than money or things.
Having the time — afforded to me by a job that grants vacation days — to spend on the island made me happier than anything we bought in any of the stores we visited. I would have been content just to sit on the stone ledge at the harbor and watch the straits water getting jostled with rain. Without time, I couldn’t have done any of the things we did or bought any of the things we bought, anyway.
The island helped me decide to spend my precious time more valuably from here on out.
Certain things (my family’s safety and health, the success of this newspaper) are worth worrying about — when it’s time to worry about them.
But I will try not to worry any more than I have to.
And I will also make time every day to appreciate the present, to appreciate the time I have on the planet with the people God has put in my life. I will not worry during those moments I invest in gratefulness.
I will close my eyes, picture the tide lapping against the rocky shores of Mackinac Island, and put everything out of my head except time and how glad I am to have it.
And that will be time well spent.
Justin A. Hinkley can be reached at 989-354-3112 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JustinHinkley.