The Value of One’s Time

So a few weeks ago Trisha brought home a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. She knows I like to do those occasionally.

As the amount of sand in the top of my hourglass of life is becoming much smaller than the bottom, I put more and more value on what I do with my time. Either I am productive and contribute to society (create jobs and goods and services), or I educate myself (reading, studying), or I create art (painting) or I write (blog), or I keep healthy and jazzed about life (hiking, climbing), or I spend time with loved ones, friends or family. All of those activities are producing some kind of lasting and contributing value for myself or society.

Then there are jigsaw puzzles.

This is the puzzle she brought home:

[click to enlarge]
1000 pieces, all white scribbles on black tiles. For the first few days I didn’t even know what it was all about. Then I figured out it’s “I love you” in many different languages, plus love scribbles on the bottom part. I figured it out from the Japanese “I love you” on the board, of all languages. I challenge you to figure out where it is.

This was the hardest puzzle ever. It just sucked away the hours. I don’t know how much time I spent on this, but it took weeks, and sometimes I’d find myself sitting there after many hours at one o’clock in the morning forcing myself to stop and go to bed. I guess it must have taken at least 24 hours total, or more, to finish.

Many times I could have sworn that some pieces were missing, after I had tried every piece left in one slot and not finding the right one. There was much cussing going on. But I kept plugging away, not because I was creating any type of value, but because “it just needed to be done.”

I just finished. Here it is:


Unfortunately, this evidence of my persistence will eventually go back into its box, never to see the light of day again. Sometimes we just do something for no other reason than the pure joy of doing it.

And this is what I have to say about the value of one’s time – today.

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