What is the Real Price?

Henry David Thoreau once wisely wrote that,

“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”

Or, in essence, that in the abstract economy in which we live that we pay for any goods or services by giving up a portion of our lives to another person in exchange for a credit to be spent elsewhere.  We are so deeply entrenched in this thinking that most of us don’t even realize that this is how the system works. 

If we want to eat, we no longer wander out to hunt, gather, or farm our food; we go somewhere, perform an abstract task, and receive a token.  The tokens are then counted out and given to another in exchange for food that they likely didn’t hunt, gather, or farm either.  And we’re in too deep to change this now…

At best, we can remain conscious of this fact and hopefully remember this lesson when we spend most of our allotted time away from our loved ones, our interests, or our real passions.  Who wouldn’t prefer to go on a bike ride, spend time with their children, learn a new skill, or just sit on the banks of a creek?  Instead, we rush to work, ignore our better selves, and spend our remaining hours seeking entertainment and distraction. That’s what we were trained to do.

I’ve been there myself.  I spent too much time working away from home, living in motels; too many hours in overtime, for what?  Even in doing a job I found extremely interesting, I began to resent the time lost from the things I could be doing for myself or my family.

I have no real answers.  Just the knowledge that an awareness of the trade-offs may help us budget and balance our short time here on Earth. I know, just another late night ramble so please take this with a grain of salt.

Do good things.

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6 thoughts on “What is the Real Price?

  1. I agree with you. The only thing we can try to do is live a little more simply. 2 years ago I bought a cabin in the woods (ok, its a small 2 bedroom mobile home on a little over an acre in the Pocono Mountains of Pa.) Price was under 30k, paid cash for it and when retirement looms closer all of the upgrades/repairs/improvements will be completed I can live up there for $160 a month plus utilities. Where I reside now in central NJ typical 1 bedroom apartment in a decent area is about $1100 a month plus utilities. Living with cheaper rent means my dollar can stretch further to let me do things I want to do

  2. i agree – health made me give up my profession a few years ago and i live on a greatly reduced income but with far more contentment! by the way, whatever you did with your settings has worked – the whole post now comes up in feedly!

    • I found a setting in the Admin section. It wasn’t clear what it did but made a distinction between seeing a summary and seeing a full post. It doesn’t say where or how, but I chose it anyway. Thanks for the update.
      Live well and happily.

  3. This is bang on the money. Exchanging labor for capital is slavery. Throeau said there were two types of slavery in his day, chattel slavery in the south, and the only slightly less repugnant wage slavery in the north. We ended chattel slavery by war and building machines that do work, that should have made wage slavery also disappear but it didn’t. Instead we invented new types of “work” which are really just reasons to keep the wage slavery system going. No one really needs a new iphone, or laser hair removal, or radioactive iodine therapy for your cat. The entire modern world runs of debt, and convincing people to get on hamsters wheel to work off that debt makes more money. But money is also funny stuff. If you don’t spend it on stupid stuff you can make your money work, so you don’t have to. Combine that with a simple, frugal lifestyle and you have the path out of the modern world and its cubicles and hamster wheels.

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