How much money would be enough, you might ask, and I couldn’t say. There’s always a way to spend more. Quien tiene moneda la cambia, I’ve heard said, meaning money gets spent, similar to saying in English that money is burning a hole in your pocket.
If money is easy to spend, time is easier, and a more interesting question is what kind of a margin is needed there to feel safe. If I need to get up at seven, I set the alarm for six. If I have to catch a bus, I run the last 100 yards even before it’s come into sight. To get to work on time, I make sure I get there 45 minutes early, which isn’t as crazy as it sounds because there’s always some last note to read again or handout to Xerox or matter to think about for the day’s classes. Even then I don’t feel safe because before I set my things down, my buffer has shrunk, and as I wonder at that, it shrinks further.
It’s not just at work; it’s always. Setting out on my day is like setting out for the store with money jingling and a hole in my pocket. Coins are slippery, and they trickle away, and the weight of the extra change you drop in to replace what’s draining out enlarges the hole and your funds disappear all the faster. The same with time. Where shall I spend it, what shall I buy? you might ask of your day, forgetting how hard minutes are to count and hold onto. Even more than money, minutes are fluid, like water, which even if you fix the leaks you still lose to evaporation. “Where did it all go?” you ask in bewilderment. Of your day, of your week, eventually of your life. More than like money, time is like love. As with love, you’re wallowing in it and tussling with it. It’s good, it’s bad, it’s everything. And you don’t see it dry up. The 19th-century Spanish poet Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer wrote that sighs are air and go back to air, and tears are water and go back to the sea. Tell me, he says, when love is forgotten, do you know where it goes?
¡Los suspiros son aire y van al aire!
¡Las lágrimas son agua y van al mar!
Dime, mujer, cuando el amor se olvida
¿sabes tú adónde va?
Anyone who thinks time is money, think again. You’ve missed the bus.
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