–Eventually FIRE stops being “like” anything. It simply becomes the norm. But I live within walking distance of downtown in a mid-sized city, and when I see people in suits/ties/etc. I can’t help comparing my life to the monotonous hell I imagine their lives to be. And I shiver a little: “Thank GOD that isn’t me.” Which is projection, of course. I stress the word IMAGINE.
–Sure, there’s sometimes boredom. My kid goes to school at 9:30 and gets out at 4:30 (it’s a STEM school at a local community/tech college so the hours are more tied to the college’s rather than to the county school system’s.) In between those times I have some hours to kill.
How? I lift, take jiujitsu, and run. Three hours of working out isn’t unusual–happens twice a week, with at least 1.5 hours on other days except Saturday. Take care of errands. Write a lot. Game. Read. Every so often take a two-week road trip. Four Corners, a bicycle tour, backpacking, or whatever
–You might ask “What about volunteering? That all sounds kind of selfish.” But I moderate and contribute to Reddit’s financial independence sub, which can take upwards of a couple of hours a day. I do that because I’m passionate about giving people hope that there exists a life track apart from “birth-school-work-death.” It’s a main reason I run this blog. (For damn sure it ain’t the pittance of money.)
–I’m about to turn fifty and I’m trying to relax into being a mentor. I have a couple of younger guys–one forty and one nineteen–who regularly ask me for life advice/perspective/etc. Spend an hour or so on the phone with them each week. This makes me very uncomfortable, because 1) it’s a heavy responsibility, and 2) it’s an admission of aging.
So while that’s not volunteering in a traditional non-profit organization sense, it’s still trying to improve the human condition and leave the world a little better than I found it. And of course I try to gain humility/knowledge/etc. from these activities.
–I also look at raising my kid as volunteering. I’m a strong believer that instilling solid values in young people during their formative years is one of the most worthwhile activities there is. Imagine the ripple effect of even one life well lived. One life can touch many thousands of others.
–Something about mentoring that I wasn’t expecting is that I’m starting to hear stuff like, “I hope I’m as active as you are when I’m your age.” Well…fuck you, you little bastard. 🙂 Good on you for being active now, but don’t assume that having grey hair automatically makes a person weak. Again, 🙂
–I shop during the daytime. Gotta confess there’s more schadenfreude here than there oughtta be.
–Another unexpected benefit is that I think I have more of an opportunity to get poison out of my system than somebody who has to subvert their personal problems and even identity to a corporate mission for the majority of the day. If I need to rage/cry/vent/whack a tree with a baseball bat/talk to a therapist/fight with my wife/make up with her/whatever, I don’t have to wait. I can get it out of my system right then.
–I don’t have to put off doctor/dentist appointments.
–Our disaster recovery plan has reduced to “We’ll figure out.” In “The Screwtape Letters“–a must-read–C.S. Lewis wrote about how attempting to reconcile yourself with an infinite number of negative futures (in the sense that “if A happened I could always do B, but if C happened I could try D and E.”) is futile and destroys your enjoyment of life. Your resolve gets honeycombed with all these little pockets of fear. Our FIRE survived the housing bubble collapse, which has given me more confidence in its sustainability.
–More time for sex. I mean, hey, let’s be honest: if you want to get shagged out you have time to get shagged out.
–A few weeks ago I realized my beloved 2011 Long Haul Trucker touring bike wasn’t shifting correctly no matter how much I fine-tuned it. Took it to my local bike shop for a look-see and the head mechanic told me that after thousands and thousands of miles I’d finally worn out the drive train, especially the chainrings. So I ordered the parts I needed and rebuilt the entire bike pretty much from the frame outwards. Drive train, cables/housings, a detailed cleaning, framesaver, you name it. Took me twenty or thirty hours because I took my time and was an extreme perfectionist about it. Spent probably $400 on parts, but the bike now rides like new.
–Gaming. I’ve gotten OK at PUBG. Although I still suffer from potato aim, on a good night I’ll have a game where I have at least a couple of kills. Had seven in a custom match the other night. I think that was a PR.
–Chores. I don’t carry as much weight around the house as I should, though. It’s an area I need to improve in.
So I don’t know, man…being FIREd is all this and more. Good and bad things, but on the balance I’m glad I escaped. Hope this list inspires you in your own pursuit of–what, happiness? Yeah, that’s the right word. You have to know the darkness to appreciate the light, but on the balance I’m appreciating the light a lot more than I used to.