Not Wasting Time: Taking a Second Career Break

Time is now the currency. We earn it and spend it. The rich can live forever and the rest of us? I just wanna wake up with more time on my hands than hours in the day. – In Time (2011)

In Time is a movie that really spoke to me. In the movie, the main character, Will, is falsely accused of murder and must find a way to bring down a system in which time is money. While the wealthy can live forever, the poor have to beg, borrow, and steal enough minutes to make it through each day. At one point, a character gives his time to Will and tells him, “don’t waste my time.

How many times have you been in a pointless meeting thinking what a waste of time it is? So many of us waste time every day. We casually think that there will be time later. One of my strongest memories of seven years working on cruise ships was speaking to a widow who said, “we always planned to come here to Alaska together but there was always something that got in the way.” I heard over and over again, “don’t wait to make your dreams come true” or “you are so smart to travel like this while you are young.” I often felt like a character who had borrowed against time and was running to spend my time wisely traveling.

When my company went bankrupt after September 11, 2001, I thought I would never travel again. I just could not imagine how to make it happen. When George came in my life after an internet date and shared his dream of a year of exotic international travel, I was willing to jump with both feet and share his dream. During our eleven month adventure in twelve countries, our relationship deepened, and our life together evolved. We really learned to be a team.

In the movie, In Time, Will talks about what he would do with plenty of time.

Henry Hamilton: If you had as much time as I have, on that clock, what would you do with it?
[Will looks at the clock on his arm showing how much time he has left]
Will Salas: I’d stop watching it. I can tell you one thing. If I had all that time, I’d sure as hell wouldn’t waste it.

I have been graced with the option to travel and act outside the box. Lily Tomlin said “the trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” When I dropped out of medical school and went to Club Med and Princess Cruises to see the world, I didn’t have a clue of the adventures I would find. I would say a theme of my life is that I have not wanted to waste my time.

Recently George and I were provided with another opportunity to drop out of “normal” life. We left July 1st to start a year in South East Asia. Leaving this time is so different. I wish I could write a letter to myself and get it this time four years ago as we were preparing for our first voyage together. Everything seemed so hard and so complicated. We had to build a storage unit in the garage which we used for the first one-year trip and for two summer trips. Now we will be gone again for a year. We are about to rent our condo for the fourth time. The first time I was so worried: will my relationship work out? Will the tenant break all our dishes and windows and things?

George has gotten a leave of absence again. I am saying good-bye to hundreds of children again. We are working on travel insurance, moving files, and finding the best things to bring with us in our backpacks. This time I actually have a backpack. For our first year trip, I freaked out and left with two small bags but no backpack. A few years ago, George bought me a backpack and now I love it.

I had to be patient with myself then. I was so worried. But I lived. I survived. Getting right up close to my greatest fears has let me see some of the best times. On the last trip, I lost sixty pounds and we got engaged underwater. Both were tremendous surprises. For this trip, I cannot even begin to imagine what we will discover together. I only know that we are living our dreams and I cannot wait to see what will happen next!

In the movie, Sylvia realizes that maybe it is worth it to step outside of your zone and take a chance.

Sylvia Weis: Oh, no? The clock is good for no one. The poor die and the rich don’t live. We can all live forever so long as we don’t do anything foolish. Doesn’t that scare you? That maybe you’ll never do anything foolish or courageous or anything worth a damn?

I am glad I took the risk and said YES when George asked me to go with him on his dream trip. For me, it felt foolish and courageous and it makes me feel so alive to be getting ready to go again on another “Big Trip.

Lisa Niver Rajna, M.A. Ed. is an accomplished travel agent, blogger, speaker, science teacher and member of the Traveler’s Century Club, a unique travel club limited to travelers who have visited one hundred or more countries. Lisa and George Rajna spent eleven months wandering Southeast Asia from Indonesia to Mongolia where they fell in love, got engaged, and now as a married couple are writing a book about their journey. They left on July 1st for another year in South East Asia, follow them at

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