The most valuable thing on the planet isn’t money or the material things it can buy. It is time.
It’s not accidental that we talk about “spending” time, as if it were money. Because deep down we understand that to spend time profligately – to waste it in delicious immobility, burning up the tiny amount we’re allocated at birth, simply gazing at the horizon or reading book – ah, that is the greatest luxury of all.
In a culture of bucket lists and frantic itineraries and FOMO, it can feel like a waste of precious time to spend two or even three weeks in one place. And yet spending time – letting it trickle through your fingers like sand on a beach – can be one of travel’s most intense pleasures.
When we allow time to spill over new places, they transform. The public becomes personal. The epic becomes intimate.
The beach you discovered on the first day becomes, by the fifth day, your beach. A small supermarket, at first just a place to buy milk and bread, becomes a daily conversation in good-natured, broken English as the proprietor tries to teach you the local names for your groceries. A feral cat, at first nothing but scenery, becomes a pest or pet.
When you travel at a slower pace and on a smaller scale, even the weather becomes an event, as the sun-blasted, retina-scorching white-and-blue of the travel brochures is softened by the shadows of clouds and then transformed by rain, peeling back the superficial Instagram glamour to reveal something more intimate and therefore more beautiful.
Some, who stumble through the great places of the world with their eyes locked on the pictures they’re recording on their phones, see nothing at all.
So, the way to experience more is to slow down and scale down.
What better way to to go into the new year and the new decade than giving yourself the gift of spending time – consciously. This is really the greatest luxury of all.
The paradox of speeding from place to place in the hope of seeing more, is that we end up seeing less.
Acknowledgment: Financialmail Travel – Tom Eaton /Time Travel
& Image: iStock.com/Anton_Sokolov