Last week was depressing. The warmth of summer ended and has been replaced with cool rain that chills you to the bone, I caught a nasty flu like virus and have been suffering in a fever induced delirium, Steve Jobs died, my aunt Hazel died, my retirement account statement arrived (ouch), and the worst part, I turned 40. Yup, I’m officially over the hill.
When I was 19 I walked by a basement window in downtown Portland. Through that window I saw what looked to be a computer class. About twenty guys wearing starched white shirts and ties sitting at computers typing away. They looked unhappy and I did not want to be them. At that time I dreamt of someday owning an import/export business and traveling the world. To travel…
Fast forward 5 years and at 24 years of age my dream of traveling and owning an import/export business was still unfilled. Instead, I had been living a rock-n-roll lifestyle and was hitting burnout. Clubbing and working low paying jobs had lost its appeal and my life had become more of an after school special. It just wasn’t fun anymore and I finally realized it was finally time to go to college and get a degree.
Fast forward another 5 years and I graduate college with a degree in Civil Engineering. After graduation I am offered a great job and Kerri and I buy a house, get married, and 4 years later we have a beautiful baby girl. The American dream!
And now I’m 40; happily married for 11 years, working the same job for 11 years, lived in the same house for 11 years, and our wonderful daughter just turned 7. And in just 19 more years I can retire at full pension at the young age of 59. The perfect American dream! Or is it?
Steve Jobs was filthy rich and could afford most medical treatments, yet, cancer ended his life at the age of 56. Fate is a funny thing. It doesn’t matter how rich you are, how healthy you are, or how safe you try to be, when your time is up, it’s up. You never know when you might get terminal cancer, die in a car accident, or get crushed from falling space junk. We are all going to die! So, we might as well enjoy our time here and not expect to wait for retirement to start living. And that is exactly what I plan to do.
While most people my age are looking to buy a bigger house, a newer car, or that cool new gadget; I am getting rid of everything we own. Most people my age are looking to advance their careers; I am looking forward to the day that I will no longer be that unhappy guy sitting in front of a computer that I said I never wanted to be, yet, ended up that way. I have chosen to live the un-American dream. I don’t want bigger, I don’t want newer, I don’t want to make more money for having less life. I want something else. I want to live life and experience the wonders found around the world, not the wonders found at the mall.
This next year will start a new chapter in my life. I am giving up the American Dream and have chosen to travel as long as possible on a round the world adventure with my wife and daughter. But the problem with traveling round the world is eventually you run out of money and must stop traveling to work again. It would be nice to win the lottery and be able to travel indefinitely, but so far, it hasn’t happened. I have no desire to return to what I am doing now. I no longer want to be that unhappy guy sitting in front of a computer. I want to be that happy guy doing what he loves. The goal for my 40’s is to visit all of those places I have only read about, to find what I love and a way to make money doing it, and to spend as much quality time with my wife and daughter as possible. I want to live before I die…