Quality vs. Quantity: Money, Time, and Energy Part Two

(First published in August 2008)

It is often said that when it comes to time, quality is more important than quantity. For such a long time that’s what I believed in, until a recent not-so-sober discussion with a friend over bottles of beer changed that.

We were talking about Time when he suddenly blurted out the question: Which is more important, quality or quantity? Naturally, I answered “quality”, but he said, “No. It’s quantity.”

By the way, we arrived at this topic because he was contemplating on whether or not to accept a high-paying job abroad that will take him away from his family for several months at a time and see them only once a year for about a month.

He explained that just having your kids see you everyday even without much bonding is more important than infrequent quality time with them. Somehow in my drunken stupor I got his point and added that if you bear a year of loneliness working abroad to earn big bucks and come home for a month of “quality time” – constant bonding with the family through picnics, movies, travel, and everyday gourmet food – that kind of bonding will be quite artificial. It is not hard to spend a lot of money and energy everyday if you only have to do it for a month. And in that month of sustained festive mood, you cannot really get to know your family and vise-versa because everybody is always “happy” and full of adrenaline. You cannot get know how they are when they are bored, angry, sad, or scared. You cannot get know the real them.

I believe it is the same with friends. When buddies from out of town come to Davao for a few days, we often skimp on sleep just to maximize the number of things to do and places to go, spending a lot every night and ending up very tired in the morning. But this is because we only have a limited time together, so it’s party everyday; if my guests will stay for a month, I don’t think I can sustain this lifestyle. Now I won’t argue if you call it quality time because it really is, but in the process I can know these friends only up to a certain degree because it is all good times. I may not be able to know the real them – when they are bored, angry, sad, or scared. Now I am not trying to trivialize my relationship with these friends from out of town because they are really very special to me. I only wish to be able to spend more time with them and bring our friendship to another level.

NOTE: This piece is not yet finished because I am not yet satisfied with what I have written, but it is now 1am and I am getting sleepy. I hope to wrap this up with a nice ending soon. In the meantime, care to share your ideas?

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Attempts at uncovering the underlying simplicity beneath apparently complex concepts as well as the core complexity within seemingly straightforward issues


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