Wednesday 25 March 2020

Living a Low Wake Life

"Why in the world would anybody put chains on me?"
                                                               -lionel richie

Chances are, if you're living in the Age of COVID, you're probably reading this at home.

Welcome to living a "No Wake Life"

It's what we called it back in 2013-

it's still true today.

Since the link is intermittent, here it is:

We work our asses off to buy stuff that we can’t enjoy because we are working our asses off to pay for the stuff we buy while diligently saving (or attempting to save) for our retirement which we keep pushing back because we keep working our asses off  to buy yet more stuff to enjoy  that we have to work our asses off to pay for, and there is always something else that we want or need or think we need (but really want) that we have to work our asses off to pay for and…
 A generation ago somebody coined the phrase “rat race” to describe this phenomenon of modern consumerism, and the term stuck.
It’s wrong. 

It ain’t a race.

You can win a race.

Modern consumerist  life is a strictly no-win proposition, friends…
…  and none of us gets out of here alive.

I began to think about this a few years ago, when I received a matched set of stainless steel rechargeable electric salt and pepper grinders as a gift.

Think about that:  Electric salt and pepper grinders.
 I am pretty sure this is an answer to a question nobody asked.

This gift made me ponder, and I came to some conclusions:
1.     I must be one of those “hard-to-shop-for” people.
2.     I’d rather have an LCBO gift card.
3.     Grinding pepper over your mashed potatoes is apparently much more strenuous than I ever thought., that somebody decided the world needed this.
4.     A gadget that doesn’t really save any appreciable time or effort and provides little entertainment required somebody to work to earn the money to purchase it.
5.     Enough is enough.

 At the time, I was working a gig that required me to work 12 hour days 6-7 days a week,  put in 40 000 km a year behind the wheel of a car traveling to meet prospects,  75% of whom either don’t want or can’t afford what I am selling, so that  I can afford the next toy/vacation/orthodontist payment/thing with the 50% of my income that the tax man has allowed me to keep.  I was alienated from, and alienating, my kids, my wife, because of my absence from home life, and I became an overcompensating asshole for the same reason which increased the tension and…

…any of you out there who have climbed out of the wreckage of a crashed marriage know exactly where I’m coming from.

Actually, scratch that vacation part.  At the time I hadn’t taken more than a long weekend off in over a decade.

  And I thought I was successful.

  I began to question where I was going, what I was doing, and why. 

   Frankly, I figured enjoying retirement is a myth.

That whole “Freedom 55” thing?  Bullshit.

 First, you gotta get there.  With my diet, hours, stress level and number of miles driven every year, the odds were good I wasn’t gonna make it. 
Second, you gotta pay for it.  You need to keep squirreling away the cash, tending your investments, watching your nest egg grow, deferring and sacrificing today for the dream of a better tomorrow…

….As long as the market doesn’t tank, your health holds up, property values don’t plummet, or your kids don’t move back in, with their kids.

    Money may not buy happiness, but always feeling like you don’t have enough will make you bitchy as hell.

I was sitting in the cockpit of our old, small, paid-for sailboat one morning, enjoying a cup of coffee when it hit me:
  As a society we are conditioned to approach life like a big twin-engine cabin cruiser- heavy consumption, lots of noise, lots of flash, throwing a big wake.  Unless you are getting noticed, you’re not succeeding.

   I finally figured out that there is a lot to be said for living a NO wake lifestyle. 

   But how?

  With a bit of soul searching we realized we had to quit confusing our wants with our needs.

  My wife and I realized that we were perfectly content spending time on our old, small, paid-off  boat in our low-cost slip on our no-frills dock. We didn’t need a bigger boat on a fancier dock.

  And we didn’t need new cars.  As long as the old cars keep running , it is always gonna be cheaper to fix ‘em than replace ‘em.  If I need a new whip to impress you, you’re likely not worth impressing.
    Besides, there’s something real liberating about parking wherever you damn well please, because dings and scratches just don’t matter.

   And we didn’t need a $20 000 kitchen reno or a $10 000 bathroom makeover.  Or a bigger house.  Or a bigger garage. 
Or a bigger mortgage.
For a longer time.
 With fatter payments.

   We didn’t need to stand in line to be grilled by a soul-patch sporting “barista” first thing in the morning just to get a simple cup of coffee which costs as much as a Happy Meal, when we had a perfectly good underused coffee maker on the kitchen counter.

We needed to live life NOW, on OUR terms.

   A funny thing happened. By deciding what we could live without, we could now afford to live.

With less financial stress, I didn’t need to be on the road, living out of a car and fueling up on fast food three meals a day.  My wife and I discovered that cooking dinner together was a great way to re-connect at the end of the workday.  Chopping, sautéing, stirring with a glass of wine while recapping our respective days beats the hell out of eating a Whopper an hour from home.

  We didn’t have to save dining at restaurants with tablecloths for a special occasion to fit the budget.

  We could afford to drink the bottles of wine we could only read about before.

   We could take vacation days without figuring out what we had to sacrifice to make up for the lost wages.

   Hell, we could take whole damn vacations, for that matter!

    The sunsets look just as pretty from a small, paid-off sailboat as it does from the bridge of a six-figure cabin cruiser.
    The rum goes down just as well.
    And I can enjoy it instead of working to afford it.
    And so can you.

No comments:

Post a Comment