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"Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance ... through Church and State, through poetry and philosophy and religion, till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality ... and then begin, having a point d'appui, below freshet and frost and fire, a place where you might found a wall or a state, or set a lamp-post safely ... that future ages might know how deep a freshet of shams and appearances had gathered from time to time."

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Waiting For That Day to Come

Posted on Aug 19, 2014 by in Meditations | 0 comments

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It’s a glorious and peaceful Sunday, a pool of sunlight laps outside my window and I am kissed by the cool artificial breeze of our air conditioner after a nice refreshing shower. I like to meditate, even though sometimes it leads down a rabbit hole. Today I have been wrestling with the wait. The balancing act of working hard to save money until I can live off the dividends, and not getting depressed when I know that there is a better way to live, but that I can’t do it yet.

Working this hard has turned me in to a worrier, I always feel like I’m forgetting something that’s going to bring the whole house of cards down in my effort to do the work of 3 or 4 men so that I may retire that much faster. It makes it hard to relax.

I think, how could anyone live like this for their entire lives? Sunday seems to provide only a few more short hours of freedom until Monday rolls around, and then it’s back to the grindstone. First world problems right? Nonetheless, I feel it important to strive for the most ideal life. Rich or poor is not the consideration, being free to do as your please, with whatever is “enough” for you personally, and then a cessation of the struggle, who doesn’t want that in any strata of society?

The American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, only a little while.

The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then?”

The American laughed and said that’s the best part. “When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions. Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

Coming to grips with this problem means questioning yourself as to what your purpose is, your job in this world, what makes you so special. What is it that I’m going to do after FI that is so damned important? Whatever I’m doing now should be furthering that the same way the labor is. Health is obviously high on the list, but often overlooked or put off until tomorrow. Health is a foundation, but what of the peaks and ramparts?

Music, food, travel, literature, writing, engineering. Smells in the kitchen, holidays, and hot chocolate and fireplaces while the snow falls. Laughter, giggling, fun. Little ones.

I think my highest aspiration, would be just to be able to get it all, to understand the world and my place in it. Of late I’ve noticed how ideas and memories and ways of framing my thoughts are collecting in my mind like junk in an attic. I’m still seeing things from the perspective of what people would think who I haven’t seen in years and who brought nothing of joy or utility in to my life. Comparing myself to old classmates, thinking in terms of what friends would do, would think, etc. It’s junk, useless old junk that I don’t need anymore.

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