The most astounding thing that I take away from this book is how obvious it is that he values his family. The way that he tells stories about his children and the time he spends with them shows how important they are to him. Jim Wallis says that a schedule is a moral document and so is a budget. It took me a moment to realize what he meant by this phrase. Often I have talked about with my friends that what I spend my money on shows my values. For example I can choose to buy products fair trade and organic and that shows the value I place on the well being of people and the earth. But I never had thought of my schedule being a moral document. As a student, I am never without something to do yet my schedule does contain a lot more flexible time than the schedule of many working people. Yes many hours in each of our days are determined for us. We must study and work but we do have the choice of what we study and what we work at and how we use our time when we are not studying or working.
A friend of mine suggested recently an exercise to re prioritize ones values and as I consider that my schedule is a moral document I would like to think more about how my values line up with how I spend my time. What are my priorities? Well I suppose they are similar to many other people’s priorities
- My relationship with God
- My relationship with my family
- My relationships with my friends.
These first ones are obvious but then it gets a bit more difficult:
- My own health and well being
- The land and places that I love and am connected to
- The well being of vulnerable people around the world.
These are the things that are important to me. Obviously school and work have to fit in there somehow. Much of my schooling teaches me more about the land and about how I can care for those who are vulnerable, which fits into my values, but it also can take time away from other important things and I should not let it because these are the things that bring life. Maybe I cannot spend the majority of each day praying, visiting my family and friends, being active or cooking delicious healthy food, but I can make sure that these things are a part of my daily/weekly schedule. If I put these things into my calendar first then when I get busy with other things they are less likely to get neglected.
In Chapter 12 Jim Wallis describes his experience of “island life” and he says that for a kid coming from the city it is a “transformation of mind, heart, lifestyle, pace and consciousness.” In our regular day to day do we take time to slow down and re-evaluate life and where we are going in our busy lives? We would be much happier people if we considered what we really value and streamlined our lives to match. We have filled more and more of our time but it is not meaningful. I often ask myself why do people work so much? Many people don’t love what they do for work so why invest so much time into it? The common answer probably is money. I wish people knew that they didn’t have to spend their life at a job they hate, that they don’t have to try to “keep up with the Jones’,” and that they could live a much freer life if they recognized what is truly important in life and chose to live a simpler life focused around their newly rediscovered values.