How Much Life Does That Cost?


Sunset at La Jolla Shores

In recent months many people have asked why the sudden jump to Costa Rica.  A dramatic life-change, such as this, obviously indicates a major overhaul in our thinking, and people are understandably curious about the details.  Like all good reasons, there is more than one, but the following is a big one.

About a year ago I harmlessly, casually altered my perception on costs.  Instead of considering costs in terms of money, I began considering them in terms of time.  How many hours of my life did something cost?

At first onset, this gentle thought-tweak felt good, but largely insignificant in terms of the actual impact it might have on my life.  I mean, I already knew my money came in exchange for my time and effort.  I already knew I wouldn’t live forever.  There was no new knowledge, really, just an adjusted perspective to value transactions in terms of life directly instead of indirectly.

What I didn’t anticipate was the sum magnitude with which the impact would hit after being multiplied by the countless decisions I made every day.  I wasn’t trading money for things any more.  I was trading my life.  I was suddenly more aware of cost, not just in terms of money or even hours, but in terms of life and the seemingly endless list opportunity-costs.  What else could I be doing with my life?

Every $30 was an hour of my life.  Every hour of my life was one that I could spend only once.  No refunds, exchanges, or redos.

Suddenly, decisions that once tipped yay were now swinging nay.  Possessions were losing their allure.  Loving, learning, and experiencing were giving me fulfillment that possessions could not.   Little by little the trajectory I had set for my life began to bend.

My whole life I had marched in a particular direction, pursuing the job, the house, and the car.  I was living the dream, but I felt empty.  Assessing costs in terms of life caused me to reconsider my unspoken goals.  It challenged me to ask myself what I really wanted in exchange for the hours I lived.

Pura Vida!  That was what I wanted. I wanted to feel alive.  I wanted to feel deeply, truly, authentically happy.  I wanted to be part of something meaningful.  I wanted to wake up excited about each day.

But how to do all of this?  That was the question.  All I had so far was a list of abstract wants.  I needed something concrete.  I needed a project, a destination, a mission.  Costa Rica became that project.  My mission: to drink in that exotic land and let its mantra of “Pura Vida” pulse through my veins.  A little overdramatic, but you get the picture.

So, what do you want in exchange for your life?

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