By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
Carole Townsend

(Not So) Common Sense
Time is the currency in shortest supply
By Carole Townsend

We’ve heard time described in various ways over the years, haven’t we? “Time is of the essence.” “Time’s a-wastin’.” “Time-saving tips for….!” The fact of the matter, though, is that time is best summed up by simply saying, “When you’re out, you’re out.” It doesn’t even matter whether we spend it well or foolishly. When we’re out of time, we’re out.

We talk a lot about saving time. We may shave a few minutes or hours off of a task or a trip, but no, we do not save time. We can’t hoard it or save it up for a rainy day.  We can’t steal it from another person and add it to our coffers, either. Sounds like a great premise for a fiction novel, but it would be just that – fiction.

We hear people joke about wealth and riches, telling us “you can’t take it with you.” One of my favorite song lyrics deals with this very subject. It’s in Don Henley’s song Gimme What You Got: “Then Gabriel comes and taps you on the shoulder, but you don't see no hearses with luggage racks.” Clever, and I love clever words. Still, I suppose we could take it with us, if we knew someone honest enough to comply with our wishes. We could ask to have our money buried with us. Perhaps Henley would have been more accurate by singing, “I don’t see no clocks in coffins.” Not as poetic, I guess. Hard to find a word that rhymes with “coffin.”

I cringe when I think back to my younger days, when thoughts of time and its finite nature never, and I mean never, occurred to me. It never entered my mind in my twenties that my time, too, would run out someday, just as does everyone else’s. Oh, I don’t mean I squandered time by allowing myself lazy days and exciting adventures; quite the opposite, in fact. I wish I had more of those under my belt.

When I was younger, I squandered my time by allowing someone else’s expectations to take a bite out of it. In other words, I agreed to many a Tupperware party and makeup get-together to soothe someone else’s feelings. I spent countless hours at work trying to establish myself as a sharp go-getter, a real “company woman.” I squandered years on an abusive marriage, much like one might spend thousands on a prestige-branded, but hopelessly broken-down car. I spent all of that time, and I will never get a minute of it back. 

And depreciation? Nope. We can never have that discussion about time spent on anything, because it is never devalued. It’s never worth less. It’s simply gone, isn’t it? Time wasted is gone, and time spent well is gone. I’ve learned over the years that, if it’s going to be spent anyway, I want to spend it well. And the funny thing is, as different as time and money are, both can be invested well. When money is invested well, it multiplies. When time is invested well, the investment multiplies. Maybe an example is in order here. For all the times I sat down in front of the TV and watched a sitcom or worse, a reality show, when that hour or half hour was over, I had nothing to show for it. But when I spent that same amount of time with my children, that time was invested well. That time made them feel special, loved, important. That time will pay dividends for years and maybe even generations to come.

My time is invested well when I spend it with my husband. He is the only human being who will be with me until time runs out for one of us. The richer I can make his life, the richer I can make mine. I invest time in my faith, because my Maker is the only one who was with me before I was born, during my entire life, and for eternity after I am gone. Faith is a big investment, for me anyway. When I invest time in my friends and in my community, I believe that time is well spent, too. It’s a great big world, but if we can just make our small corner of it better in any way, we’ve improved our world. That improvement is an investment, and it pays dividends down the road, too.

These words are not meant to be sobering or depressing; in fact, they are intended to encourage. Yes, our time here on earth is finite, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be wonderful, fabulous and exhilarating. The point is that it’s our choice. Time is a commodity that we all have, every one of us. And every one of us will run out of it and stand at the end of our days, empty-handed. Oh, but what have we left in our wake? That’s what matters.

There’s another quote that I love, and it was written by Hunter S. Thompson in Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’” 

Hunter, thank you. I intend to do my best.

Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was published April 2016. It is the true tale of a crime that took place in Gwinnett County nearly 40 years ago. Her other three books are MAGNOLIAS, SWEET TEA & EXHAUST; RED LIPSTICK & CLEAN UNDERWEAR; and SOUTHERN FRIED WHITE TRASH. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national true crime radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and at www.caroletownsend.com. When she’s not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, children and the family. For more information, visit www.caroletownsend.com. For more information, visit www.caroletownsend.com.