Something strange has been happening to me over the past year or so. I haven't written much about it because I'm almost in denial that it's happening.
I'm caring far less about money.
This is scary to admit. A lot of my identity, at least internally, is based around the desire and eventuality that I will become rich. Losing my motivation to be rich is like losing a part of myself. I feel like I'm right on the edge, as if I could just say, "forget it..." and never look back.
I've never been super rich, but I've owned cars I previously fantasized about, lived in places I dreamed about, and have literally been at the point where I bought everything I wanted and couldn't think of anything else to buy.
At the other end of the spectrum, I lived in my RV for almost a year. I had only the water I could hold in my tanks and the electricity I could get from the sun. My backyard was the curb of a public street. The fridge broke, and I went through a Texas summer without air conditioning.
Total luxury versus the complete lack of luxury.
And you know what? Niether was more fun that the other. Niether made me happier. Money didn't affect my life in any measurable way.
And believe me - if anyone wanted to believe that money means something, it was me. I remember talking about this with my friend Hayden.
He laughed and said, "What? You actually thought money mattered?"
I did. People who told me that it didn't never seemed to believe it themselves, so I didn't either.
I think some rich people miss out on authentic experiences by being rich. My friends and I rented the cheapest car we could in Panama, we drove through the countryside, and joined the locals in a tiny interior town and celebrated Carnival with them. It was perfect.
After the celebration we slept in the car for a few hours and drove back to the city. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything.
But would Donald Trump even be able to do that? Would he go to a town that doesn't have a hotel rated more than one star?
That's not to say that all great experiences have to be cheap. Another time I was in Vegas with a high roller friend. He won $40k and we celebrated by getting huge hot fudge sundaes sent to our 5000 square foot suite.
After thinking it all out, I guess that what really matters, to me at least, is having as full a range of experiences as possible. I want to hike through a forest and stay in a tent in the middle of nowhere. I want to have a private jet to fly around the world with my friends too, though.
So I want to get rich because doing so will give me a broader range of options, as long as I don't become a snob and think I'm above any of them.
It's not the money itself that's important, or even being able to have lots of cool things. It's the FREEDOM that one gains without having to worry about money.
Off topic, but this made me curious.
You're a vegan now, and you don't typically eat the flashy sugary foods...but there can be a celebratory satisfaction and fun to be had in fantastic foods like giant sundaes...what is the vegan equivalent of that...is there one?
If you miss out on thousands of amazing experiences just to gather money for a few highly costly experiences it might be a better choice just to stick to the cheap ones.
Keep you eyes on the prize. I am depending on you to get rich so you can just give me like an even mil to live off of. Thanks bud.
So true. It's funny to hear you write that, howeverr, since as of pretty recently you still mentioned that money was your top goal. I guess looking back at your RV experience, it all makes sense though.
That's why money is a mean, not an end.
It's ironic that lots of peole think of money as an end when 'money' literally is defined as: "the most common *medium* of exchange".
I've learned that myself recently.
I realized that doing a job that bores me isn't worth the money that I get for it. I'd rather do something that I enjoy for half the salary than do this any longer than I'm required.
I may have to add an asterisk to the saying that buying things can't make you happy. I bought a motorcycle, and I'll be damned if it hasn't made me one percent happier than I used to be. Then again, we all know that spending money on experiences can make you happy. A motorcycle isn't just a vehicle to move you from place to place-- it's an experience every time you ride it.
My brother has loved motorcycles for as long as I can remember. So has my uncle. But despite "the disease" obviously mixed up in my blood, I never really thought twice about riding a motorcycle. It was sort of like stamp collecting to me-- something other people do, and obviously derive some sort of pleasure from, but I hadn't given it more than a passing thought.
Last December, for some reason or another, I thought that it would be novel for all of my vehicle registrations, inspections, licenses, etc. to be legal and up to date. I drove my RV back to Texas to renew the registration and get inspected, made sure the insurance was current, and paid off old tickets. The only remaining infraction I was guilty of was driving my folding scooter without a motorcycle license, which is required in California.
As a (divorced) father of two children, for me somehow Christmas was a time that made me feel incredibly guilty for the twisted situation I had helped to put my kids in - it was a time to subconsciously ask for their forgiveness by showing them how much I loved them by showering them with things. Remember strolling up and down every isle in Toys "R" Us thinking to myself, "If I was my son...If I was my daughter, what would I want." And the crazy thing is I didn't stop at one toy or 13, if I saw something I thought I'd want at their age, I bought it.
But the real lessons for me in all of this and what inevitably brought an end to the madness was what actually transpired on Christmas mornings when the presents got opened. The first lesson came when my son was three and after he tore the paper off and opened oodles and oodles of gifts, in the end what he was playing with was this huge ball of tin foil one of them had been wrapped in, not one of the dozens of new toys he just unwrapped. The thing that happened which ended the insanity for me a few years later was when my 4 year old daughter, after opening what must have been 30 different things and came to the end of her personal mountain of gifts asked with disbelief, "That's all daddy?"
Finally the light shined on me. The "joy" came not from the quantity or even quality of the gift - the real spirit of Christmas is just being together with the ones you love most. The joy is not in the getting, it's in the giving. A gift I have discovered, is as magical a present for not only the person receiving but equally for the one presenting it. The first step to put out in to the Universe a request for something very special for that special someone, to go out and find something that moves you, it talks to you when you see it on the shelf or your computer screen or a suggestion given to you by a friend. In that object or what ever it is you are giving, you know in your soul it was meant for them. What I have since learned is that even more wonderful than a gift of a thing is to give something of yourself.