Everything Has a Cost

Whether we are fully conscious of the fact or not, everything has a cost in life. Every decision involves some kind of trade-off. Living our lives purposefully means being aware of our value system and making decisions that are in alignment with our essence as human beings.

NOTE: Photographs have been added to serve as visual breaks.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-160

As we go through life we may have some idea about where we are at a given moment, but the future remains unknown. There are often twists and turns in the road. We can we end up someplace that was not our original intent. Sometimes our lives seem to not have any purpose or meaning at all. We’re like a ball in a pinball machine just banging around aimlessly until our time is up.

Ring of Beara Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 50 mm, efov 135 mm, f/8, 1/640, ISO-400

Challenges appear before us that require effort. Determination. Courage. Sometimes we choose to meet those challenges, and at other times we may avoid them. Avoidance may reduce our fear in the short term. The cost is not developing our talents and deepening our understanding of ourselves and our true capabilities.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 18 mm, efov 48.6 mm, f/5,6m 1/50, ISO-400

As a male living in Canada I have a 44% chance of getting cancer at some point during my lifetime. My wife has a 42% chance. A relatively small amount of that risk is genetic. Most of the risk is lifestyle choice.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/5, 1/30, ISO-6400, subject distance 245 mm

Like most other people we are aware that diet, exercise, stress and exposure to toxins contribute to our cancer risk. We can ignore those factors and eat highly processed foods. Avoid exercise. Be overwhelmed and stressed out by what other people think of us, or by world events. And, be careless around chemicals and emissions.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 64 mm, efov 172.8 mm, f/8, 1/160, ISO-800

There is a significant cost to the lifestyle choices we make. How we choose to live our day-to-day lives directly impacts the kind of physical death that we will eventually experience. That’s the ultimate cost of our lifestyle choices.

OM-D E-M1X with M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/4, 1/40, full frame capture, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 630 mm

I woke up this morning. Based on my current age and the average life expectancy of a Canadian male there’s a good chance that I’ll wake up another 6,000 times. If I continue to make good lifestyle choices and stay fit and healthy I may have the potential to add 3,500 to 7,000 more mornings to that total. One thing is certain. The number of new mornings that I have in front of me are far fewer than the ones I’ve already lived.

Kylemore Abbey Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 f/4-5.6 @ 100 mm, efov 270 mm, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO-1600

I can choose to follow narrow philosophic dogmas, whether they be political, religious or cultural. Whatever I choose to follow may soothe me in moments of doubt. They may give me black and white interpretations of current events, and tell me what I should think and how I should behave. The cost is a loss of critical thinking, of loosing my freedom of thought and expression.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 76.4mm, efov 206.3mm, f/7.1, 1/100, ISO-160

How we choose to spend and consume has a cost beyond just financial considerations. When we take on debt we become prisoners of it… slaves to a paycheque. We live in an illusion that we own a house or a car when we still have mortgage and loan payments. As long as we have debt the financial institution owns those things. If we fail to make our payments those things will be taken away. The cost of debt is an increase in stress, and a loss of freedom and choice.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 60mm, efov 162mm, f8. 1/320, ISO-160

We can make seemingly small, habitual purchases without considering the real cost of those acts of consumption. Buying a couple of cups of coffee a day could cost us $5 or $6 or more a day. Over the course of 50 work weeks that’s $1,250 to $1,500 a year. During a 40 year work career we would have reduced our potential retirement funding by up to $60,000. Plus the growth potential of that money over time. Based on a modest annualized return of 3% a lump sum of $60,000 would grow to $195,722 over 40 years.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 60 mm, efov 162 mm, f/8, 1/13, ISO-160

We can allow ourselves to fall prey to the opinions that other people have of us. Many people spend money on brand name clothing, make up and grooming, and whatever is deemed to be currently fashionable in terms of hairstyle. Not to mention a plethora of branded consumer goods. All to curry the favour of people that likely couldn’t care less about our wellbeing.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 22.9mm, efov 61.8mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO-160

When I was in my formative teenage years I used to pay a barber to cut my hair. My last paid haircut was a disaster. At that point I decided that I’d learn to cut my own hair. School chums were horrified. I’ve been cutting my own hair for over 50 years. My first attempts were pretty bad, but I got better with time. As I’ve become more follicly challenged, the task has become much easier. I have no idea how much money that I’ve saved over the past 5 decades as that wasn’t my goal. Paying a barber came at the cost of being less self-sufficient and independent.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7 mm, efov 18.1 mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-400

I still make apparel purchases when needed. In 2021 I purchased some shoes, one pair of pants and a belt. There was nothing else that I needed. Earlier in the year I went through my side of the closet and removed everything that no longer fit properly, or that I hadn’t worn for some time. All of that clothing filled 8 large, green plastic bags. I donated all of that clothing to a charity in town. I live with a very simple philosophy. If people care more about how I dress than me as a person, I don’t need them in my life.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 30 mm, efov 81 mm, f/8, 1/40, ISO-400

When my wife and I decided to have children she really wanted the opportunity to spend a much time as possible with them. We became a single income family and learned to stretch our available cash flow. That meant buying used clothing for the kids. Avoiding eating in restaurants. And doing our best to eliminate impulsive purchases.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 42 mm, efov 113.4 mm, f/8, 1/50, ISO-160

We live in a small town and wanted to maintain that lifestyle for our children. When I advanced in my corporate career I spent 15 years commuting 150 kilometres daily. I negotiated flex time with my employers so I’d have more time in the evening with my kids. That meant waking up at 4 AM every morning and leaving the house at 5 AM for my commute.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/3.2, 1/125, ISO-5000, subject distance 630 mm

Everything has a cost in life. The sooner we realize that and begin to make well informed choices, the less stress we will feel. And, the richer our experience of our life will be. The worthwhile things in life are far more important than materialism and mindless consumption.

Technical Note:

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced using my standard process.  This is the 1,103  article published on this website since its original inception.

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20 thoughts on “Everything Has a Cost”

    1. Thanks Mauro!

      I think the process of maturation can help clarify our values. Our experiences in life can also have a significant impact. Most of the approaches outlined in the article were things that my wife I decided to do over 40 years ago, that were prompted by life experiences not our chronological ages.


  1. Outstanding article that hits on a number of VERY important points about life! Thanks so much for writing it. The last 18 months here in the U.S, with all the changes / restrictions, have been a wake up call for many. Thanks for the reminders of the important parts of life.

  2. The story of life… the truly only important things are your own health and your loved ones. Wisdom gathered from my own senior years. All else is temporarily important.

  3. Tom, part of the reason I follow this and read every post is you never know what to expect. Sure the title talks about small sensor but it never says anything about where that sensor is pointed.
    Today it was on a topic that really touches home with all of us and, at times, points to things we could have done better.
    My philosophy has always been that I will make mistakes, I just want to make ones that are different than my parents and learn from the ones I make.
    As I play this ‘back nine’ of life, my plan is to be better today than I was yesterday.
    Stress can play a major role in your health. I try to minimize this and do well in most areas save one… what will the world we leave to our kids and grand kids be like? There are days when that weighs very heavy.
    Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. Thanks for adding your thoughts and perspectives to the discussion Ron. I can relate to your plan of being better today than we were yesterday.

      After creating over 1,100 articles over the past 7 years, I must confess that I often don’t know where the inspiration for a new posting will originate. I just go with the flow and hope that some of my more philosophic pieces will still be of interest to readers.

      We share your concern about the world that we will be leaving to our children and granddaughter so we try to be environmentally conscious and make the world a little bit better. Postings like this one are one of the small ways that I try to make a positive contribution to the world around me.


  4. Excellent post, Tom. As I age (and I’m a bit ahead of you) things of importance seem magically to become more and more clear.

  5. Thoughtful and timely post. We all are the result of the choices we make. As we get older, choices are better as we get wiser (hopefully) and we start to measure how to make the best of the time we have left. No truer words were spoken who said “Youth is wasted on the young”. Love the pics, as always.

  6. This was a great post Thomas. Well written and presented. A mantra in our household, especially with our kids, is that life is about choices. This is so very true especially today. BTW – I cut my own hair too – and my son’s ; )

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