The adage goes, “Time is Money.” As with many an old saw, this is one of my most pet of peeves.

I don’t dispute that time is valuable. It is a non-renewable resource, the only one that all humans have in their personal possession. Time is also an unknowable and unmeasurable asset. None of us can speak with certainty about Time except in the broadest of platitudes and generalizations. “There are only twenty-four hours in a day,” we say. “There are seven days in a week,” we remind ourselves. Even these are arbitrary. There are twenty-four hours in a day only because we have decided to measure time from sunrise to sunrise and because we have chosen to split into the odd increment. Even then, it is an uneven balance, changing as the year (another arbitrary designation) rolls along so that some days will have slightly more or slightly less time in their documented hours. The week is even more profligate. There is nothing special about seven days. A Sunday need not be distinct from a Tuesday or a Friday.

What is most at dispute is the concept of value. We make the tacit assumption that life (and therefore time) has value and in felicitous circumstances I hope it does. We can choose to appreciate the beauty of our time, of each breath, of each whisper of breeze on our cheek, of each delicate color of sunset. But that is a choice. For some bleak souls, time is a curse – loneliness, illness, pain, the whole litany of things that are also part of the human state. I guess it is safer to say time is precious, although even that is a value judgement. Perhaps, the truest and blandest statement is that time is finite.

Which brings us to my peeve. “Time is Money” implies that money is the equivalent of value or even that the finite nature imparts a monetary value. But money and its pursuit are the most arbitrary of goals. The implication that any moment spent not in accumulation is wasted is both erroneous and insulting. The statement makes Money the defining factor for all of endeavor, not what we do with the money nor what pleasure it may provide.

I would argue that Time is not Money, but the reverse. Money is Time; time to enjoy the fleeting moments of beauty and humanity that our finite and precious moments offer us.