Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Rolf Potts on Time Wealth (A Note)

I first heard about travel writer Rolf Potts an eon ago, when he interviewed me about my travel memoir of Baja California, Miraculous Air, for his Vagabonding blog. Back then-- whew, it was maybe 2003 or 2004?-- the idea that another writer, on his own platform, would "publish" interviews was very avant-garde. How things have changed! 

(In part in emulation of Potts, I started my own occasional podcast series of Q & A with my favorite writer friends. So thanks, Rolf.)

With his books and blog, Potts has garnered legions of fans over the years, including Tim Ferriss. Ferriss, the super-buff, tango-dancing, Mr Viral-Video, tree-climbing, globe-trotting author of the best-selling Four Hour Work Week, is the sort of author I'm usually allergic to (well, I sniff, how else will I ever get through my backlog of Willa Cather novels?). But Tim, I send you a cyber shower of jpeg lotus petals! Because, actually, I did read The Four Hour Work Week and gleaned some nifty ideas from it, and I quite enjoyed your recent podcast interview with Rolf Potts. In particular, I was heartened to hear you guys talking about "time wealth."
(In addition to more podcasts)
On my wish list for more exciting
baking experiences: the Yeti oven mitt

(Speaking of time wealth, while listening in, I was baking a pumpkin cake. I hereby award myself a prize.)

But seriously, I think about time wealth-- though until now I wouldn't have used that term-- all the time. It's the hours, quality hours, of one's life-- how to maximize the number and maximize their quality? Most  people assume that more money, more stuff, is the way. But as one climbs the curve of middle age, one starts to feel the drag of clutter, and the shrinking time-horizon. 

As they say, "your stuff owns you," for every single thing, whether big (a house) or small (a pair of shoes) requires both care (of some sort, at some point) and physical space. Trips to the mall, the dry cleaners, the grocery store, getting that light fixture fixed... I'm always asking myself, is this where I want to be? Is this what I want to be doing? I have so many books I want to write, and time rolls by at a frighteningly fast rate. 

One exercise that always brings me back to the best tactics to maximize time wealth is to imagine that I have, say, a hundred million dollars. Silly as it may sound, I recommend doing it seriously. 

As "the Estate Lady," Julie Hall,
reminds us, "the hearse doesn't
have a trailer hitch"
Really, what would you do if you had a hundred million dollars?  

Most people, once they get past their tittering at the helium in such an idea, blow through a long list of stuff-- a special car, a fabulous mansion, a this, a that... but then, past all the material objects, and a parade of imaginary butlers and masseuses (none of whom, ha, seem to require training, time off, any paperwork, inconvenient boyfriends or children, or annoying quirks), and then, oh yeah...

Giving away a wad of it to this relative, another wad to that charity... There's usually a long list of relatives, friends, and charities.

And then... then...

All of that exhausted, there is something else. 

Something the heart yearns for, and that, usually, doesn't require much money, if any. It might be time to read, just read, on a beautiful beach. The chance to paint. To write a novel. Make a film. Volunteer to help [fill in the blank]. And very often travel often comes up: to cross the country on a bike, to see India, or, say, hike the length of the Appalachian trail. 

The thing is, stuff-- whether the illusory lack of it, or the clutter of it-- has gotten in the way of seeing the heart's true, and for most people even of the most ordinary means, very attainable, path. 

Dear readers, check out Tim Ferriss' podcast interview with Rolf Potts. (Don't mind Ferriss' nattering on about his viral videos and his underwear. As we say in Mexico, no hay dos.)

Your COMMENTS are always welcome.

Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico: 

(from the workshop page)