Benjamin Franklin, one of our nation’s most notable and notorious founding fathers, a real OG, famously said: “Remember that time is money.” Like so many things, he was right, but not for all the reasons he thought.
In his essay, “Advice to Young Tradesmen,” he correctly states that if you take a half-day off, but spend no money, you still lose those half-days wages. This, of course, was before Paid Time Off, but you get the idea. He also said, “Employ thy time well, if thou meanest to gain leisure.” Of course, Franklin was referring to merely salary and earning enough to take time for yourself, but I think he missed an important point. Your hourly wage isn’t the only value time has. Time, itself, has immense value, and when your lifestyle, especially excessive leisure, starts taking time away from either work or family and friends, then you lose both time and money. In the end, it’s the things we didn’t get to do that we tend to regret the most, not how much money we didn’t gain.
As I’ve gotten to my middle age, a very unsettling pattern has become very evident to me: I’m losing time. I don’t just mean I have lived half of my life and my death is steadily creeping towards me. I’m losing time now because I didn’t “employ my time well.” Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed myself immensely when I was young, but I didn’t really take care of myself well. I didn’t eat healthily, I didn’t exercise regularly, and because I didn’t figure out what I wanted to do with my life sooner, I’m only just finding my stride professionally, teaching High School English. Now, I’m paying for it, with time.
Right now I’m writing this while I’m hooked up to an infusion machine to deliver medication that treats my Crohn’s and my AS. Now, you could make the argument that my lifestyle triggered both of these things, or it could be said that it would have happened even if I had done things perfectly. What I cannot deny is that because I’m about 100 lbs overweight, I have to sit in this chair for an extra hour every time because the volume of medicine is based on weight.
Every day, I take time to take my medications at home, and once a week I have to organize them and get them ready for the following week. I have to take time each day to deal with my CPAP machine for my sleep apnea. I have to take time to measure my blood sugar because I’m a Type 2 diabetic. I have multiple doctor appointments for these conditions too. You add all that up and I’m losing hours of my life a month because I didn’t take time to take care of myself before. Which means I’m losing time with my family and my friends. And because I’m larger, I just physically can’t do some things or do them easily, so I tend not to, and my kids lose out.
There is of course the monetary cost of just being chubby as well. Clothes are more expensive, food to help me stave off my weight and hunger are more expensive, and if I do want to do something like kayaking, or biking, or camping, I have to buy equipment that is rated for my extra bulk. And of course I have to spend time finding all of this. Even something as simple as gas. My car has to haul my fat ass around every day, so I’m literally paying extra at the pump for my rump!
If I lost the weight I needed to, I would probably not need to worry about my diabetes, my apnea, and probably my Crohn’s would be managed as well, but that all takes time. Time eating right, exercising, and additional time away from my family to correct all the time I spent enjoying myself when I was young. That is the true cost of being fat, losing all of that time.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve found that if I ask, my family will do most of these things with me. They’ll cook healthy foods with me, join me in exercising (if it’s fun) and will slow down and climb the steep trails with me. I just have to be humble enough to ask and not see it as a burden for them, but as an opportunity. For all of us.
So, it’s time to get started. Again, and this time I’ll do it a little more deliberately. I’ll take my time and plan things out a little more, because Franklin was right about something else: “Great haste makes a great waist.”
Previously Published on Stupid Optimism