The most valuable resource on the planet isn’t petroleum or gold, it’s time. And everyone is only given a little bit of it. But time itself is static. It lacks energy. Energy is what pushes us through life. Like time, energy is a precious resource. We gain energy from the sun, and from consuming other life forms that also took its energy from the sun. We use that energy in our waking time, and recharge when we sleep. Energy is the primary force in life. How we use our allotment of time and energy determines what kind of lives we lead. If we waste our energy on trivial things, eventually our time runs out and, well, there we are. It’s probably why so many people who are nearing the end of their lives wish they could go back and change some things about how they used their time and energy in life.

Most people use their energy to work. We get up, we consume fuel, we go to work, we come home, we consume more fuel, and we sleep. Sure, we mix play in there too. And socializing. And exercise. All that. But mostly, or at least in America, we are taught at an early age to work. Hard. Work is the reason we’re given energy at all, after all. But why? Why are we conditioned to use so much of the energy allotted to us – for working? For money, that’s why. Our hope is that money will provide us with the experiences in life that make working 49 weeks a year worth it. Money helps us pay for transportation so that we can get to and from work. Money helps us pay for things like electricity, gas, food, and cable. And braces. And haircuts. Yes, for most of us, money is the only reason we decide to buy into the idea of spending our precious energy for work.

It doesn’t seem like a fair trade-off to donate what little energy and time we’re given on the planet to working rather than, I don’t know, exploring the world; creating art; laughing recklessly; taking long adventures; making love. Rather, we get two days a week to do that stuff, and a couple weeks a year to recharge away from work.

When they called this a rat race, they weren’t kidding. Sometimes it feels like we’re hamsters stuck on a treadmill next to each other. But because we’re all hamsters and we’re all in this together, it’s ok. There’s no reason to question anything. Everything’s fine. Just fine. Keep your nose to the grindstone and your eyes straight ahead and maybe one day you will get a watch with diamonds in it – so that you can watch what’s left of your most valuable resource tick away.


Jim Mitchem – hamster

Terrible Silences

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.

1 Comment