The money-value connection
The economy has penetrated into every aspect of our lives. What that means is that there isn’t any part of what we do, which is not also part of this arrangement that we have with the society — of paying for what we use. In an alternative reality, there could have been two ways of spending time — one interacting with the natural environment, or your family, or your friends, in a closed environment, having to do nothing with other people outside this restricted circle — other people and institutes which typically comprise the society. Take for instance, you gather with a few friends, bring down some firewood and light a bonfire. As long as nobody else claims ownership over that wood (or over fire), you have not had anything to do with society. Everything about this activity is within your circle of friends, and nature. The other way of spending time would be a typical social activity. You want to sleep away from your home, you pay a hotel owner for the night. You want food without having to cook or gather raw material, you go to a restaurant and pay for it.
The more I think about it, the way the world currently operates, it seems less and less likely that the first way of spending time as mentioned above even exists. Every aspect of our life has some connection to the society. Some institution is involved with everything that we do. This is often phrased as saying — using value created by others. So every moment of our lives we are using value created by someone. The corollary to this observation is that every moment we are paying someone some money. Take a moment to reflect upon this and realize that this holds true.
It would be an interesting challenge to identify times when we are not using value created by society, but simply relying entirely on nature. With the recent news of States in Western US banning people from collecting rainwater, one needs to do a check even while considering natural resources. If we get wood for our bonfire, it is likely that some individual or institution can claim ownership of that wood and hence charge you for it.
Economy might actually be an omnipresent part of society. While we look for counter-examples for that statement, it is useful to realize that the ‘value’ in question, is being created by the likes of none other than ourselves. So we all have the capability to create value that can be used by others. An exciting way of life could be to ensure that for as many moments as possible, we are creating more value for others to use, than the value we use created by others, both of which, of course, are measurable in terms of money we are willing to pay for them respectively.