More and more, I'm convinced the real wealth of our age (beyond that required for life's basic necessities) is the wealth of time.
This past summer, my family and I spent over three months on the road traveling in our motorhome. We logged over 7,500 miles, and visited the four corners of the United States (and part of Canada).
The most common response I got from friends and strangers alike, when I told them what we were doing, was simple: “I wish I had the time to do that.” Or something similar.
The common thread was not the potential expense of such a trip, nor even how it's possible to support oneself while taking such a trip — it was how it's possible to spend that much time traveling.
In his excellent book, Vagabonding, Rolf Potts shared this from Edwin Teale, lamenting the harried life of the modern world. “Freedom… with its wealth of time, it's unregimented days, it's latitude of choice… such freedom seems more rare, more difficult to attain, more remote with each new generation.” Teale wrote those words in 1956. It hasn't gotten easier to enjoy time freedom since then – but it also hasn't gotten harder.
It seems to me that wealth today can be defined largely by how much freedom of choice we have about how we spend our time. The interesting thing is, having more freedom of choice about your time does not necessarily require more money. In fact it often requires less money and more ingenuity and resolve. And a determination not to live like “the mass of men”.