It was as if Joe fell off the face of the earth. An entire week passed with no sighting of him. Now don’t get me wrong, it was not that I missed Joe’s meddlesome ways, just curious if he had made a decision. Another week had passed, and still no sign of Joe. I had just started acclimating to a life without his prying, when he rang the bell.
This was a shock. We were now in the second year of living in this residence, and at no time did Joe ever rung the bell.
“Joe,” I said, mustering all the excitement I could. “This is indeed a surprise, come on in.”
“I’d rather not,” he said, sheepishly. “Could we talk outside?”
“Sure, sure Joe. Is anything wrong?”
“No. I feel more. Besides I was about to do the lawn.”
He stood behind the lawn mower. Fiddled around with it, and slowly began to speak. His words were almost inaudible, which forced me to lean forward.
“My wife and,” he drawled, “I have decided not to accept your offer.”
“Joe, are you saying that your wife told you not to?”
“No, no, we both agreed.”
“I want to make sure I understand this. You discussed the 1440 with your wife, and you both agreed not to accept.”
“Not exactly,” Joe said, looking at the lawn mower.
“I am really confused. Did you come into a pile of money?”
“What prompted our initial conversation was your need for money. Did you find a better solution? Has the urgent need for money abated?”
“No,” Joe stammered. “We just don’t want. That’s our decision.”
“If that is your final stance, I must accept it, but I must be frank with you. Whether you accepted the 1440 or not, you are a willing but perhaps unknowing participant.”
“What do you mean?”
“Perhaps you know, but have never heard it explained the following way. I told you that I lifted 1440 pounds while doing three sets of decline dumbbell bench press. I had an epiphany when I realized the significance of that number. You see Joe, 1440 is also equivalent to the minutes in a twenty-four-hour day.
“As I looked around the gym, I realized that all of us were given the same amount of time each day, and what we chose to do or not do with it, determined our ultimate station in life.”
Joe’s eyes starting bulging out. “What? I thought you were talking about money. You said, you were going to give me $1440.”
“Think back,” I whispered. “Did I say give or you were going to get?”
“Same thing,” Joe snapped.
“Is it now? What I said was stop by the house at 4am, and you were going to get.”
“Your terms were, I had to spend all of it, and could carry nothing over.”
“Exactly. Can you carry over yesterday into today? Whether you chose to do nothing, or accomplish something, when those 1440 minutes are done, they’re gone forever.”
“You said, I had to account for it.”
“That is correct. Keep a log for a day of everything you did. At the end of the day, see if the time was used wisely or wasted. Spying on your neighbors, shirking your household responsibilities, gambling on the horses, etc. How does those activities help with your money situation?”
“You tricked me!”
“You led me to believe you were going to give me money. I told this to my wife. She kept saying, I misunderstood you. She told me to talk to you again.”
“I see. It took you two weeks to muster up the courage.”
“Not really. I was trying to figure out your angle. So, no money. All this dribble was about time!”
“Time you have been wasted, which you cannot regain. Why don’t you put a fraction of time going forward, to good use. Read, and educate yourself how to solve your perceived money problems. List all the talents you have, which can be put to some commercial use, in order to make money.”
“What can I do that will bring me more money?”
“You can stop talking, and start thinking. I told you the answer you seek requires quiet introspection. Whether you choose to achieve something or merely let those 1440 minutes slip away, you will never get them back.”
Joe shook his head. Pull the string on the lawn mower.
“Before you leave,” I said. “Joe, the biggest regret one has in life is what could have been if only he or she had chosen a different path.”
1440 . . .
1440 . . . (The Epiphany)
1440 . . . (The Decision)