Ski Bumming, 2017 - Life is Short
When I recently told a good friend about this year's Ski Bumming trip, he asked a great question: "What happened to prompt this lifestyle change?" He wasn't just referring to this year's trip; he was also referencing the phenomenal 16 months prior, which included our multiple backpacking trips, the Grand Canyon (backpack to the bottom!) / Monument Valley / Navajo Nation tour, five-weeks of ski bumming, and nearly five weeks in Europe this past summer.
Flashback to a couple years ago when we worked together, and I was a corporate prisoner — long, long hours, working weekends and evenings, budgets, running a team, performance reviews, crappy bosses, being told to "manage up" (translation: kiss up to my a-hole boss. No gracias!), horrible / terrible long commute, lots of travel, very limited vacation time, stress, stress and more stress, lack of balance, etc. The true definition of the rat race.
For many years, 1der has been questioning the sanity of it all. "Why," he would say, "are we doing this? We just have to tweak our lifestyle, and then we can get out of this craziness." While I heard him, I couldn't let go. I wanted to accomplish more, have more responsibility, slay the challenges. In a nutshell, I was crazy.
My last corporate gig was in 2013, and it is an understatement to say I hated every single minute of it: the one hour and 45-minute commute involving a car, train and either a bike ride or shuttle bus (and that was to just get TO the office, then repeat for the way home, working the entire time en route both ways); the utterly soul-sucking, unfulfilling work; super long hours; all the nasty politics, a lying, manipulative boss and other backstabbers in the office. I had been warned it would be bad, so I went in with both eyes wide open. I knew I made a horrible mistake after just two weeks on the on job — I lasted barely three months.
The job before that lasted 3.5 years, with another shitty, insecure, misogynistic horrible person boss who proudly and regularly proclaimed for all to hear: "I LOVE being an asshole!" And man, was he not kidding. He would tell women to "not get your panties in a wad" when we were upset with the treatment, when our good ideas were quickly shot down just because, etc., and he would loudly say repeatedly, "all Asian women look like shit after they turn 55." Wow. How I wish this was all figment of my and my colleagues' imagination...
Over the last couple years, 1der and I have been working for ourselves and slowly detaching from the rat race. My brother and friends have told me I look so different compared to a few years ago. I guess de-stressing does wonder for the face, eh?
So what changed in me to finally say, "I'm done"? The loss of 1der's Great Uncle Bill, who passed away last January, just 11 days short of his 110th birthday. Uncle Bill had such a tremendous impact on us. He was truly amazing; completely cognizant and "with it" until his very last days.
1der had the honor and privilege of being extremely close to him, especially for the past ten years of his life, speaking with him on a near daily basis discussing stock prices and the market, and having profound discussions about life in general. I had my own special bond with Uncle Bill. He always charmed me with his wonderful stories of the past, and he continually amazed and inspired me with his generosity in spirit, graciousness, congeniality and wry sense of humor.
Over the past 15 years, our visits to Uncle Bill's residence (a retirement home) gave us a window in which to observe the last years or decades of many people's lives. People who, like Uncle Bill, lived rich and extremely full lives, yet in their latter years, could live as their most adventurous and able selves only in their memories.
Uncle Bill always said, “we're not here that long, so enjoy every moment that you can.” I hear his words every day. So the time to create those memories is now; the time to ski, to be in Beastie, and to live, is now.
One important caveat to the YOLO perspective: we "signed" a social contract many years ago to not rely on others to fund our lifestyles today or in the future. We've always saved and lived below our means, shopping second-hand, bargain hunted, accepted "hand-me-downs" instead of buying the latest, etc. It takes years of sacrifice, hard work and discipline to do this. We had a friend who made and spent millions of dollars, only to loose his entire fortune, who once told us, "I couldn't live like this..." Recently, he was driving for Uber to make ends meet... Making money isn't everything, but ya gotta earn a living while playing. That's just our two cents, and we're sticking too it. 🙂
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