FI blogger SavingNinja asked a the question we’ve all been asking – or been asked – before. What would you do if you got a million? What’s new about it? He asked fellow FI bloggers to dedicate a post to it. With their right brain. That means without too much thinking, editing, censuring (which are left brain functions). They should write whatever pops up in their minds. It’s a new post category on his blog, called ‘thought experiments’.
The following FI bloggers already posted their reply…
Below is my answer…
A train down memory lane
I am on a train, heading from Amsterdam to the small home town where I was born and raised. As we are whizzing through the country side, I look at the fields, windmills, farms and picturesque villages. I know this low-lying land so well. It’s where my roots are. Or were. They’re buried, I figure, deep under the lush green meadows in the dirty grey soil.
I would never say I miss this place, but every cell in my body seems to be whispering: You are home. I don’t want to admit it.
I left this country more than twenty years ago and I sense that if I were to return – which I consider highly unlikely – I would go through a reversed culture shock. Everything is familiar, yet nothing is really the same compared to that cold November day in 1997 when I boarded my plane bound for the US. Granted, I am not the same as back then either. People change when they submerge in other cultures. They change their perspectives. I had definitely changed mine.
There is nothing wrong with this land, but I have shed my skin many times after moving beyond its borders, from place to place, and going back, conform to this country’s written and unwritten rules, its people and their habits, is simply not an option for me.
My changed perspectives. It’s not only related to where I want to live, but also how I want to live. I remember that when I left twenty years ago, I had this idea that the world was at my feet. That I was like a bird about to leave its cage. But what exactly did that mean? Yes, I flew out and never really looked back. And I have been many places since then, but was the world really at my feet and had I really left my cage? If so, I must have flown right back into one. Because that is how I feel right now. Caged.
If I had had £1 million
It’s that cage. I’m still in one. So my number one priority – if I had £1 million – would be to break out of that cage. This time I’d never fly back into one again.
I will not going to do the math. It’s a bit irrelevant when having that much money. I’d be financially independent if I had that amount. Period.
Instead, let me walk you through the hypothetical first day of my financial independence.
07:00 – The alarm goes
I get up, take a shower, get dressed, go through the usual workday-routines. It is not a usual workday however, far from it. It’s the day I will retire and I can’t wait to bring the news to my boss and colleagues.
It’s pouring outside and the wind blows my hair in all directions. A man yells at me. He’s angry and I have no clue why. But it doesn’t matter. Before I would have yelled back. But not today. Today I just smile.
08:30 – The cake
There is is amazing bakery right opposite the office building. I walk in and order the biggest and most delicious looking cake. With a custom text on top. Let’s see what my colleagues will say when they see that.
I tell the girl at the counter her smile made my day. It’s an utter lie, but don’t feel bad about it. I simply feel like saying something nice to someone. I think I will do that a lot more as of today.
10:00 – The crisis
Fire extinguishing is almost a daily activity where I work. With this I mean handling a crisis situation with one of our customers. When such a situation occurs people raise their voices, become agitated and make frantic phone calls. And we all gather in the so-called war room.
I lean back in a corner and let all the others do the yelling, amused by the term ‘fire extinguishing’. Extinguishing FIRE is the last thing I will do. A few of my colleagues look at me with wild, blood sprung eyes. I feel almost sorry for them. I said ‘almost’.
11:00 Breaking the news
We just left the war room. Fire under control. So I figure it’s the perfect timing to stir things up a bit.
I ask my boss whether he has time for a short chat. Sure, no problem and we find an empty meeting room. The room is called ‘Lisbon’. ‘Great idea’, I am thinking. I am already making a mental list of places to visit.
His eyes are wide open, lips slightly parted. And he just stares at me, without saying a word. I am mentally recording every second of his reaction as this is the divine moment I have been playing in my mind so many times. I want to remember it and one day tell my grand children about when granddad quit his job.
12:00 It’s cake time
The colleagues are equally shocked.
I announce it by showing them the cake. It says ‘FIRE’ with letters in gold. They don’t understand and one colleague asks me ‘wh..wha…what’s the occasion again?’, afraid she has missed an important email.
Then I tell them that I will retire. Sure, I will show up the next week to hand over (that’s what I say, but I am thinking ‘dump’) my work to them so that it will be a smooth (that’s what I am saying, but I am thinking ‘rough’) transition for them.
Shell shock. Again, I am mentally recording.
This alone has been worth it. I am convinced. FIRE-works.
How about you?
What would you do if you had £1 (or $1) million?