value of time

September 17th, 2013

1376345328e69d8ff06a72cen“I think I have the sixty cents.”

This is what you’re likely to hear if you’re standing behind me at the post office. Or at Starbucks, tapping your feet, waiting to order and get back on the road.

Sure enough, I do have the sixty cents to go with the five dollars’ postage for my priority mail envelope, and as I dig in my wallet to bring it forth and count it out, I realize how it looks. Two quarters and two nickels.

“Money is so old-fashioned, isn’t it?” I say to the postal worker, who sees a veritable parade of the out-of-date at her counter every day. The post office today is like a mecca of yesterday.

Here’s what I like about exact change. It takes time. Counting change slows me down.

I’m not in such a hurry anymore. I don’t know why anyone would be. I can see what we lose by our rush, but I cannot see what we gain.

It was back-to-school night last Thursday. The school year is now one month gone. The 8th grade math teacher let us in on a plan they have to roll back the math curriculum to the way it used to be. Awhile ago when everyone decided we were falling too far behind in this country, losing the future and forfeiting our superpower, they commenced a reign of terror in our middle school math program. Good math students were funneled into accelerated classes, learning math two years ahead of schedule, crammed and tested until they crapped out of the cull. It was a mystery to me why they thought this was good for our kids, what they hoped to gain by the pressure to duke it out with each other, let alone compete with the kids in Bangalore or Chengdu.

Tell kids to hurry up and you’ll stop their love of learning. Steal their confidence and pride. Dull their excitement and delight. Given time, they might yet recover. I hope somewhere along the line someone will give them back the time they’ve lost.

You can find time waiting in line behind me at the post office but those lazy days are numbered too.

This weekend I posted a prayer list and invited folks to add to it. The list grew and grew. Someone wondered how long it would take me to recite all those prayers. It takes several minutes a day. Maybe that’s why I’m doing it. Doing things that take time is the way to find time. Find time, and you’re not in such a hurry anymore.

Find time for yourself at the Plunge Retreat in Boise on Saturday, Oct. 5.

Subscribe to my newsletter • Come to a retreat • Facebook me • Follow me.



  1. o i so appreciate this post.
    and can so identify with it.
    some of my work is running errands for people.
    paying with cash, it’s like a game to find correct change. (my game, for fun, and work-wise, to lessen the coins returning)
    i enjoy the slowing down
    though it seems that this slowness is not always appreciated by the folks behind me in line.
    when i feel the inner-rushing (hurry up! people are getting upset!)
    i remind myself that this is how it was always done, and that it’s okay to take the time it takes.

    Comment by Marney — September 17, 2013 @ 9:34 am

  2. Thank you for this lesson. It is exactly what I needed to read – something I have been feeling, yet was unable to put into words. I am so much more peaceful now about some decisions I have to make, decisions that have very much to do with slowing down and taking time!

    Comment by Darcy — September 17, 2013 @ 10:34 am

  3. Karen, this is one of my favorite posts of yours. Slowing down and paying attention to the moment is one of the things I practise most consciously these days. Yesterday on my way to work I waited at a traffic light on my bike and enjoyed standing still in the fresh autumn air for a few moments. Listening to the wind in the trees. Watching the ducks in the canal. Then the light turned green, and it was time to go.

    Comment by Daniel — September 17, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

  4. 8th grade math student in this home…amen to your words.
    Apparently, although taking Algebra in 8th grade the kids in this stream consider themselves in the “dumb math” section, while their classmates study geometry. I shake my head at the teachers’ perplexed comments that our kids “don’t like math much.” I wish instead I had heard about math curriculum being rolled back.

    Comment by MJ — September 17, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

  5. Ahh the tears they come a-rolling…again and again and again:)

    Comment by Kirsten — September 17, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

  6. I love this so much. It resonates very deeply with me, thank you.

    Comment by Sarah Stanton — September 17, 2013 @ 3:44 pm

  7. This just really resonates with me, Karen. Because I often feel self-conscious about digging out and counting change …that I might be holding people up. No more. Now I will count and smile and think of this lovely post.

    Comment by Clare — September 17, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

  8. I have bitten my tongue countless times to stop the “hurry up!” that seems so inherent in parenting. (The sore tongue has always been worth it.)

    Comment by Aruna — September 17, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

  9. There is a childerens book called “Momo” I read as a child long ago. In it people become busier and busier until thet have no more care for the world around them or the joys in life. The reasons for it are vague, addictive and manipulative (the people think they can claim that time later in life). Quite visionary.
    I always think of this book whenever someone tells me how busy they are. As I read on an other blog a while ago: “Let us stop the glorification of busy, shall we?”
    So stopping to count ones small change, very important. It also shows a basic respect for money I think. Have a wonderful day!

    Comment by Simone — September 18, 2013 @ 1:39 am

  10. Love love love…..

    Comment by Eva — September 18, 2013 @ 7:28 am

  11. So often I forget. In fact, I read this as I put my feet up after two days of obscene racing to and fro. All of it has been important I think – but in reality, probably not. I hate these blurry days. I need to start counting change.

    Comment by Christine LaRocque — September 18, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

archives by month