Notes on Wealth

Partially related to Retirement for Millennials

This morning was the wealthiest I’ve felt perhaps ever.

I took the above photo, and a few dozen others.

It was 8:00 am

I didn’t worry about going to work. I didn’t worry about being late. I didn’t have anywhere to be, in fact. A generally great feeling that turns out to be.

But let’s back up a bit.

My schedule is about the mornings. I woke up naturally around 6 today. Usually when I wake up I just sort of lay there for a second — I think some people do this because they’re groggy but I tend to fall asleep instantly and blink awake just as fast — but I like to just appreciate the warm bed for a bit.

Roll over, my phone is charging on my desk across the room, so I get up and grab that, retreat back to the warmth.

Few emails, few tweet replies from last night, a text or two. Easy stuff. Clear it

This morning, like the past few weeks, there’s an email from a Kickstarter team in the UK that I’m designing for. Since UK time is a few hours out, they email me at like, 3 am my time.

6:10 or so, I get to work. In this case some rendering.

Get a big render going, shower. Work for a good hour and a bit. The sun is starting to rise, and I notice it’s super foggy out. It looks really cool.

7:30. I decide to grab the camera and go for a drive.

Unfortunately, this is also when everyone is commuting for 8:00 punch-in times, so traffic was a little rough and I smiled: don’t have to do that every day anymore (the suburb commute was worse than my old inner-city place).

Punch out into the forest. Almost get stuck in the mud in my tiny car.

And then I just walked around for an hour or so, enjoying the fog and the trees and the birds (the geese are landing now in prep for spring eggs).

All the trees were covered in this hoar frost spider web stuff?

I actually don’t know what it is — I’ve never seen it to such a widespread degree before. It really was gorgeous. I got a lot of video too, it sways in wind.

And then I came back into town and grocery shopped. It was 8:30 or so by then, and naturally that meant the store was completely empty. Also ideal.

This is something I’ve always loved about my car: the back hatch opens and makes two perfect seats out of the back cargo area so you can sit facing out. Not sure if it’s intentional, but I’ve sat on the edge of many overlooks and places like that, a sort of very comfortable mobile makeshift bench.

I sat like that this morning in the Superstore parking lot. It was empty and the sun was coming through the fog with this brilliant diffused orange glow.

Ate a strudel. They were on sale.

And in that moment — in most moments this morning — it was fully satisfying to just be in that space. Call it mindfulness or whatever, but just present.

A lot of people around me seek money, and I don’t mind that — good for them if that’s what they’re into — but it never really appealed to me.

Last year I was making twice as much as I needed, and probably the least happy I ever have been in my life so far.

This morning, wealth was time and freedom.

This morning could never have happened if I had to go to work for 8:00 am.

People, I don’t think, want to be rich. They want to live the lives of rich folk.

In a sense, isn’t this time freedom sort of the richest thing of all?

I’m not saying everyone should quit their jobs or freelance or whatever — that’s not really the point.

The point is that sometimes you realize all the things you’re chasing after pale in comparison to just eating a strudel alone in a parking lot in the fog.

And those aren’t really goals, they’re serendipitous events. You can’t really just go out and buy strudels and expect to be instantly happy in the same way that you can’t really just go out and make lots of money and expect to be instantly happy. The process exists at a lower level than the mere outcome.

This makes decision making, this makes the choices of how to live really hard.

But I suspect, if you go into it with the right attitude, you can find wealth in anything. There’s happy poor people and there’s happy rich people. There’s unhappy poor people and unhappy rich people. That metric isn’t valuable.

It’s a very Chris Hardwick / Rainn Wilson thing to say, but Enjoy Your Strudel.