Buying Time: The Lessons of a Cheap Watch

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“Make time for life,” advises Armitron, a company that manufactures affordable watches for men and women. A casual reading of their slogan delivers a simple, positive message. From young adulthood to old age, work consumes most people’s time. Leisure must be scheduled and therefore takes effort as well. If a person fails to strike a balance, exhaustion and unhappiness can sink in. Who doesn’t appreciate this concept? But examine the slogan closer and its meaning begins to fragment. If we have to make time for life, are we not living the rest of the time?

Armitron watch ad: Girl makes snow angels.

Cultural values, like idiomatic expressions, go largely unexamined. Social mobility via work reflects much of the American experience, but it is not impervious to misapplication. Without other passions and understandings, earning a paycheck can become an obsession. Our role in the workforce can seize the keys to our identity and leave us spiritually destitute. Before…

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