In Others’ Words: Time


“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” ~Carl Sandberg, American poet

I have this oversize plastic container that I keep in my bedroom. I’m slowly refilling it with change — an odd assortment of quarters, nickels, dimes, pennies from my jeans pockets or whatever I scavenge from the bottom of my purse. Every few days or so, the coins get dumped into the container.

I’ve already done this process once, saving change as I counted the days until a family trip to Mexico. When we tallied up the amount in the container I was stunned to discover I’d saved about $200 in a haphazard, casual sort of way.

But what if each one of those coins — each quarter, nickel, dime, penny — represented an hour of my life? There’s no tossing an hour into a container so I can pull it out later when life slows down. No hoarding time until I’m older (and hopefully wiser) and won’t mis-spend life’s currency.

There’s only what is … and what was. Only present … and past.

And how quickly the one becomes the other.

In Your Words: What did you spend the coin of your life on this past week? If you had the chance, would you go back and redo any of your transactions?

photo by foxumon/

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  1. January 6, 2012, 5:53 am   /  Reply

    This weeks I spent a lot of my “time coins” figuring out how to divvy out my time for the rest of the month. Actually a pretty productive thing. But there are many weeks when I do look back and wish I’d spent more wisely…you’re right, though, we can’t hoard or save up time the way we do money. And it matters how we spend it. Great thoughts!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 6, 2012, 7:59 am   /  Reply

      An additional thought on the whole “time is money” analogy: We can earn interest on our time, right? I mean, time invested in certain things, i.e. relationships, reaps added rewards.

  2. January 6, 2012, 6:03 am   /  Reply

    Healing. I think God had me where he wanted me. I feel like I’m back into myself again.
    ~ Wendy

    • Beth Vogt
      January 6, 2012, 8:00 am   /  Reply

      Time well spent.

  3. January 6, 2012, 6:48 am   /  Reply

    I think the biggest regret I have when it comes to the currency of time is when I don’t spend it – I just let it disappear. I’m not thinking about those afternoons where I choose to drift, spending time relaxing, but those days when I just don’t stay focused and deliberately choose what I do. I think it’s called PAYING attention and SPENDING time for a reason. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 6, 2012, 8:00 am   /  Reply

      Good differentiation, Edie! Relaxing is time well spent! But frittering away our time …

  4. January 6, 2012, 6:57 am   /  Reply

    Great thought and analogy. Years ago seeing the original Cheaper by the Dozen movie as a child, it impressed me w/ the importance of being time efficient, doing everything possible in the time alotted, strategizing steps, etc. That impact stayed w/ me, though of course I’m constantly juggling time and always trying to crowd too much in.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 6, 2012, 8:01 am   /  Reply

      Hhhhm … this made me think of the idea that you can only stretch a dollar so far. The same would be true of time.

  5. Jeanne T
    January 6, 2012, 7:53 am   /  Reply

    I’ve spent some of my “time-coins” with family and friends. Wouldn’t trade those memories. I find that, when I’m tired, I spend some of my time zoning on the computer. Those are half-hours and hours I wish I could get back and exchange for more profitable activity.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 6, 2012, 8:02 am   /  Reply

      The computer … yep.
      That is a black hole of “where did the time go?”

  6. January 6, 2012, 7:54 am   /  Reply

    I love this quote! So cool. I spent this week investing in relationships, something I aim to do more of. In the end only two things matter: God and people. I regret how much time I have spent worrying in my life. God always comes through.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 6, 2012, 8:02 am   /  Reply

      Two life changing insights, Lindsay. Thanks for sharing those.

  7. Karen S. Elliott
    January 6, 2012, 10:33 am   /  Reply

    This really hit me right between the eyes. Just last night I was quitting a few FB groups – I was in too many and they were sapping my strength and my time. And I also unfriended a few people who did nothing but promote themselves. And still, this morning, I looked at the clock and it read 11:30 a.m. I’ve been on the computer for about 6 hours and don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything! Time to trim the fat. And use my time more wisely. Thank you for this post!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 6, 2012, 10:38 am   /  Reply

      I completely, completely understand!!!
      And I’m trying to figure the “how-to” of all this myself.

  8. January 6, 2012, 7:28 pm   /  Reply

    What a good quote! As a bank teller, I’m totally grinning at your transaction metaphor. Yep. I would take back my curious meanderings around the internet and I’d put in some wordage on my WIP. lol
    Have a great weekend, Beth!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 6, 2012, 10:39 pm   /  Reply

      A bank teller?
      Oh, I would flunk at that job. I am the original carrier of math anxiety!
      But I may have to use you as a resource one day (please) for a story idea I have …

  9. Faith
    January 10, 2012, 9:15 pm   /  Reply

    I’ve never read this quote before, Beth, but it is exactly this concept that I’ve tried to teach my kids and other young people. We must be purposeful about how we spend our days-there are a limited number of them!

    I’ve also often reminded my kids that when they spend their actual paycheck, they are spending their life. They gave their precious time to earn that money, so in a sense when you spend money, you are also spending your life! Spend wisely.

    Thank you for your wise, thoughtful words.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 10, 2012, 9:51 pm   /  Reply

      Thank you, friend, for joining the conversation!
      I love your application of this quote to our actual paychecks. You are so right: we are spending our lives when we spend those paychecks because we’ve earned that money with hours of our life — our time.

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