Money, or financial independence to be precise, is thought to be the elixir that will cure all ones ills. “If only I had more money…” is a common mantra among those seeking to escape the functional reality of their ordinary lives. The materialist’s view is that happiness is having more things, more relationships, more freedoms, more time, and most of all, more money. Because, as the thought process goes, if you have lots of money, well then, you can buy whatever it is that makes you happy.
David Geffen, the working-class kid from Brooklyn, who worked his way up to the top of the American entertainment industry and became a billionaire in the process, has this to say about being rich, “people who think money makes you happy haven’t been rich enough long enough.”
Yet we all chase after this dream to win the lottery, pick the hot stock that’ll make us millions, or bet big on a high stakes game of poker. We believe that money will buy us the freedom to pursue our dreams. We dream of a time when we’ll have enough money to buy the things we want and to do the things we want to do. As a friend of mine said, “It would be nice if we lived in a country where everyone makes a living wage working 30 hours a week. Then we’d all have time for the rest of life; for cleaning our houses, for running our errands, for following our dreams, for volunteering, for raising our children. Why have we decided that the best thing is to make people work lots of hours, and convince them that this makes them better and more dedicated people, committed to the corporate cause?”
What is “the rest of life?”
We have a tendency to spend a lot of time with our minds somewhere else, either in the past or the future. So much so, that we often miss what’s happening right now. And like my friend, we put life on hold. We dare not pursue our dreams of living the life we want to live; doing the things we want to do.
I can almost hear the voices now, “Yeah, but in the real world you can’t always do what you want to do; you’ve got to eat and pay the bills.” And I’d say that’s true, but do you have to give up on engaging the mystery of life, finding excitement and adventure right here, right now, in whatever you’re doing, instead of putting life on hold while you slave away in the corporate salt mines?
At the tail end of last year I took a trip to Mallorca where I met a girl named Margherita. Margherita and I spent hours talking in the evenings. We talked about a great many things from capitalism to religion to tennis. I had come to Mallorca seeking an answer to the question of purpose and it is my belief that the Universe spoke to me through Margherita. She said: “We should live to live not live to work.”
One of the things Margherita found difficult about living in America was that everyone, from her experience, seemed to live to work and were obsessive about what people did for a living or what university they’d attended. She said she felt insignificant in the presence of that system.
But back Mallorca she was Margherita. She wasn’t the company she worked for. She wasn’t the university she attended. She wasn’t how much money she had in the bank. She was simply Margherita and she could live to live.
She told me that the people of Mallorca don’t general ask or want to know what you do for work or what university you went to. She said it’s of such little concern that she doesn’t even know what some of her best friends do for work. And some of these are friends she’s known for years. Imagine that!
Live to live. I like the simplicity in that concept. It says to me that no matter where you’re at, there you are. Enjoy just being you. If nothing else just enjoy the simple art and pleasure of breathing.
When will you ever have time for the rest of life? If not now, when?