Every day, the world wants to sell us just a little bit more.
The sales pitch is seductive. You can have this car, this house, this vacation, these clothes, these electronics, these toys. You can have a life of luxury and pride.
People can look up to you. They can envy you. They can admire you. Maybe, the sales pitch whispers, they might even love you. They might give you approval.
And the price? It’s trivial. Just a little bit more of your time.
The world can be yours if you’ll just hand over more of the only thing you really have — your hours, your days, your weeks, your years.
Your family won’t mind if you’re gone most of the time. Your wife won’t care if you work nights. Your husband won’t care if you have an additional job. After all, it’s extra money for the family — to buy all those things that are so important.
And your children? They won’t mind a few extra hours in “school” or being placed with a relative. They won’t mind if you’re not giving them your attention as they grow up. After all, you’re doing this for them. Right?
Nobody can blame you. It all makes sense.
Think about it. We all have to do things for other people — provide value of some sort — so those people will give us money. We have to pay for food and shelter and electricity and transportation. For thousands of years, our ancestors fought the battle to have those basics. They worked and worked just to survive.
Now we have our basic needs covered rather easily. We could cut back on the time we spend away from those we love in order to have a life that would have seemed like luxury a few generations ago but also have time with those we claim to love.
Or we can buy all these trinkets the world is selling.
Everybody wants those things. Everybody is buying those things. So the world runs faster. The time you spend with your spouse or your lover or your child becomes more compressed. More rushed. Less frequent. You make more promises — to yourself and others — that you’re doing this “just for awhile” and that you’re doing it all for them.
You buy everything that the prince of the world wants to sell you.
All you have to do is keep giving a little more and a little more of your time. Then when you’re old — with a spouse you don’t know or love and with children who resent you — you’ll be able to point to all the things you bought with the time you sold.
The default belief today is that this is normal and right and good. But if you buy the world’s sales pitch — and if you sell what’s most important in order to gain things of almost no lasting importance — you will have made the worst tradeoff of your life.
And this is why it’s a battle — to say no to the “good things” in life that threaten to take us from the best things in life.
Nobody will blame you if you buy what the world is selling. People will think you’re a success. People will envy you. People will think you have it made.
But if you’re empty inside, what good will it have done to sell the only thing you have — your time, which is your only birthright — for a mess of pottage?