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Real Wealth Is Discretionary Time… And a Sunrise Run

Sunrise at the bandstand and the iconic Dolles sign.

I committed to shipping some words while on my family’s annual trip to Rehoboth Beach, a ritual that’s taken place for the better part of the last decade.

We love Rehoboth Beach because it’s a small, family friendly, quintessential Mid-Atlantic beach town that’s provided us with an abundance of experiences and memories over the years. As our lives have evolved from dating (the restaurant scene is top-notch!) to being married with children (the playgrounds have big slides!), the town has also evolved. Having kids has allowed us to rediscover the area through their eyes. It’s become an unwavering thread of our life story.

The opportunity to mostly unplug from work for a full week is also something that I look forward to every year. And spending that time by the ocean where I can unwind and introspect at my leisure puts me into a scarce headspace. It’s deeply refreshing.

Real wealth is discretionary time. You can always make another dollar, but you can’t make another minute. Use your time wisely.

Some inspiration for the week was the timeless quote above from Alan Weiss’s Million Dollar Consulting book. Not a bad thought to chew on over a vacation. By the way, if Alan Weiss is unfamiliar to you, check out his newsletters. They’re thought-provoking, educational, and often entertaining. I can’t remember how many years it’s been since I first read that quote, but it’s stuck with me as a principle.

Here’s an uncomfortable truth: there’s only one today, we’re all given the same 24 hour budget of time, and where much of this time will go is predetermined. We’ll make our own decisions on how to spend the thin margin that remains. And then we’re one day closer to our existential conclusion. Over time, these decisions will shape what becomes of our lives.

Given this pathological framing, to treat each day as anything less than fleeting is a disservice. That’s just my opinion; but it’s also my ground truth, and it creates healthy tension in my life (and some unconventional behaviors).

During the pandemic, I was introduced to a platform called CityStrides that uses activity data from fitness trackers (I personally use Strava) to turn a city into a game of running Pac-Man. It’s a brilliant concept, and I’m all for gamifying my running to keep it interesting. It didn’t take me long to run every street in my town, and it’s definitely inspired me to get creative with my routes to expand my LifeMap.

In the spirit of “using my time wisely”, I hit the streets of Rehoboth super early every single morning on this trip, with the goal of covering every street in town by the end of the week. There’s no better way to discover every corner of a town than to run every street in that town – I can’t recommend it enough. I ended up finishing Rehoboth early in the week, then moved on to the next closest towns of Henlopen Acres, North Shores, and Dewey Beach.

An interesting fact about North Shores: this is where Joe Biden’s summer beach house is. I thought I could do a quick run-by and see the house. Instead, I was greeted by a secret service detail barricading the road a block away in every direction. There was someone out front with the dog… but it wasn’t Joe. After approaching the house from three angles, I thought that they would eventually consider me a threat, so I moved on to the next neighborhood.

The game of running streets results in a deceptively fast accumulation of miles, so it ended up being a high mileage vacation for me with a staggering 55 miles in 6 runs (plus a 10 miler the morning we left!). But my LifeMap for that area looks so satisfying…

Waka Waka

The miles also helped make a serious dent in my annual goal of “running the year in kilometers” (or running 2021km in 2021). I’m in the fifth year of this challenge, and use the visualization below to gamify the process and keep myself accountable (and to compete with friends). It’s a good subject that deserves its own treatment.

That parabolic increase in mileage typically precedes either an ultra finish, or an injury…

Seven back-to-back days of long runs was also a good stress test for my mind and body. I’ve been contemplating heading back to the Beast of Burden in July to attempt a 5th finish of 100 miles. There’s some persistent tightness and pain in my right leg that I haven’t been able to shake for months, but it surprisingly didn’t get worse (or better) with all of the miles.

The silver lining in all of the early morning runs was the abundance of opportunities to practice my sunrise run photography.

Though it’s nothing more than getting in a run early in the day while taking pictures of what I see, it’s become one of my favorite hobbies – and probably represents the largest allocation of my “solo” discretionary time over the last five years.

There’s something about being outside early in the morning that captivates me. I think it’s the stillness; the lack of people, the brightness of nature. It’s the inspiration for most of the Points in Time content for this site, and has created an abundance of memories – like the time that I went for a morning run through a vineyard in New Zealand and ended up with what is still the best picture that I’ve ever taken.

Sunrise over the Marlborough wine region

It’s a moving target, chasing the sunrise. Literally. And it’s the most difficult when we’re in the longest days of the year around the summer solstice. And then, even if the timing is right, it’s still really damn hard to pull off a great picture.

Fortunately there was no shortage of material on this trip.

Running aside, the more enjoyable part of the week was the copious amount of unstructured discretionary time to spend with the family – with no school, work, or activities to balance. Disrupting the routines of a 4 year old and a 7 month old for a week doesn’t happen without some collateral damage. But overall, it was our best trip to Rehoboth Beach yet.

Maya chose 3-4 activities to do each day, and she seemed to enjoy having some input into the trip. Jumping waves at the beach, going to one of the many playgrounds, and going to get ice cream at The Ice Cream Store were the top three activities on repeat.

It was Vera’s first vacation, and first time at the beach. She was just happy to be along for the ride. As long as she didn’t have to go in the water… it’s still a bit cold in June.

Christine kept the whole trip on the rails, making sure that we had everything we needed every time we walked out the door, and that we didn’t forget to eat or sleep. There were no crises – mission accomplished!

We also captured a bunch of family fun moments… as much as herding two kids will allow, anyway. They’re over on the Little Chevin blog. This is my favorite moment of the girls taking in the view of the ocean (also, a rare moment where they’re both sitting still):

If real wealth is discretionary time… it was a prosperous week!