I am going a little deep here. I mean, the purpose or meaning of life is about as deep as you can go, right? Depending on your own cultural, spiritual or ideological background, the answer to this question will vary greatly among every individual. For some people it may passing on their genes by raising healthy, happy children and being the best parent you can be. Maybe your spiritual life defines your meaning of life. For others, leaving behind a wealth of knowledge to enhance future generations or inventing something that eases our everyday life. Or maybe, just leaving a legacy of wealth in terms of dollar signs. For me, the purpose of life is to have fun and enjoy the world we live in. Simple, selfish, but true to me. I want to be happy and have the freedom to explore the beauty that surrounds. I don’t need to leave behind a legacy for generations to come. I just want to be a good wife to my loving husband and spend time with him as we go through life together.
I love Ben & Jerry’s quote “if it’s not fun, why do it?” That statement says it all and I smile every time I see that bumper sticker (plus I love their ice cream). Sitting behind my desk for 40 hours a week is not exactly fun but at this point I do not really have a choice as I need the pay and the benefits (damn, health insurance is expensive!) so it is a means to the end. I know I need to work now in order to earn the freedom to choose another path later in life.
I am not a hugely ambitious person with goals of achieving great success at work and climbing the corporate ladder. There is no joy in that for me. Being an executive, a doctor, engineer or something else is not my purpose. I admire people that do enjoy their work and are passionate about their occupation. I am sometimes even jealous of people who have a dream job and know exactly what they want to do with their lives. I know people who continue to work even though they have the resources to retire because they enjoy what they do. Their purpose in life is clearly defined by their occupation and this brings them happiness (or I would hope it does). But all I want to do is go out and play. Maybe I am just a kid trapped in an adult’s body (maybe that is why I am so short). Part of me hopes that this journey will help me find a more fulfilling way to earn money. Let me be clear, I do not hate my job and dread going to work every day, I just get bored which leaves me a lot of time to dream about freedom from the rat race. So for now I continue to play the game of Life at my office every day, pretending to drive my car along to the next space on the board.
One of the reasons that the financial independence goal is in the front of my mind and why I want to get there sooner rather than later has to do with my job and what I see every day (I work in the life and disability insurance industry). I see a lot of personal details about individuals and how healthy (or not) they may be. Yes, there are people who are healthy, but there are also a lot of people who are not. I have seen applications for people with all sorts of health conditions, some at a young age and others just entering their retirement years, and these all make me question my own mortality. Could I one day be one of these people with a debilitating condition that affects my everyday life? If I wait another 25 years before I retire, will I be well enough to fully enjoy it?
One thing I know for certain is that someday I will die and I want to make sure that the life I do live is a good one, surrounded by people I love (and love me), have great experiences and the memories they bring, and enjoy of the beautiful world around me. I would hate to reach my retirement date in my 60’s and not be well enough to enjoy it or even worse, die before I even get there. I hate hearing tragic stories of people who die young. No matter what, these are heart wrenching. Of course I have no (or very little) control over my eventual expiration date (although I do live a healthy life), but I do have control over my spending and my money. If I can build up enough wealth at a younger age I should be able to choose an alternate path to one where I have the flexibility to do what I want. If in five years we have saved enough to give us full freedom from a full time job then I will probably take advantage (Mr. SFF does currently have some fulfillment from his work). If I have found some more meaningful work then I may continue to work but at least I will have the freedom to choose. This post may be a little dark and morbid but I am a realist and I am going to do my best to enjoy each and every day, rain or shine, until I have the freedom to take that alternate path waiting for me. We all die but not everyone lives and I want to live life to the fullest.