Is the point of work to hurry up and retire, or to enjoy life as we live it?

I had a discussion with my brother, Peter, and it got me thinking.  Later when explaining things to Isaac, I could hardly believe how obvious it seemed, yet how programed we have been to resist it.

I learned many things in San Francisco, most jewels coming from my experiences at OneTaste.  One lesson was to follow your desire, especially if you hesitate for some useless reason like social norms, public embarrassment, fear of tarnishing your image, etc.  Those reasons just don’t make real sense, however they provide a “safe” sandbox for us to live our lives in.

Peter might disagree, but one area I think we differ in, is our willingness to live life the the fullest.  To embrace  change as an opportunity for growth, through new experiences.  This restlessness leads to my wanderlust, to travel and mean new people, cultures, cities, language, etc.  Whether that’s traveling in person, watching a foreign film, or a good book, a history lesson, anything to expand the borders of my mind.

Peter might have an opportunity to have lots of time on his hands in the near future and I could hardly understand his apprehension to enjoy his time away from work, rather he thought of ways to quickly return to work.

When talking to Isaac, I explained my view by telling a story.  Lets say you have two people, Brian, and Winston.  Both finishing community college, both hardworking, both average backgrounds.

We meet them as they both are finishing school, both are 20.  Now, Brian decides he really appreciated the 2+1 month summer and winter breaks he used to have in school, and decides he’s going to keep up that routine.  Winston on the other hand understands the value of hard work and decides he’s going to work hard, and hopes to do well, and maybe retire early.  He works his 9-5 job and takes his 2 or 3 week vacation per year, often simply catching up on personal activities he’s been putting off while working. He might take a week to go to Vegas or New York, something that isn’t too far, or costly, that he’s familiar with.

Brian decides he’s going to work for 3 months, and every 4th month, take the whole month off.  He spends a few days planing out his trip, and a few days later, bon voyage.  He’s on his was to Athens, or Rio, maybe Sidney or Singapore.  Take your pick.  He rarely visits the same city twice, and always tries to learn a few basics of the local language and tries to understand the culture, the environment, and how it shapes the local economy.  He tries to understand the how local influences have shaped the society, and compares it to others he’s visited.  He visits mueums and learns how art has changed and it’s significance with the locals.  He’s young, and certainly his trips are also filled with dancing in a local nightclub, 3-for-1 happy hours, windsurfing at the local beach, zip-lining through the wilderness, making friends with locals and other expats alike.  After wards he returns home refreshed, and appreciates certain qualities about his own culture/home.

Repeat those scenarios for.. lets say 30 years.  Now they are both 50.  whooh, 50!  :p  Well guess what, Winston has been working hard all these years, so much that he can now retire, he’s got 30 years of full time work under his belt and now it’s time to enjoy life.  He spends all his time now traveling, dancing, windsurfing, zip-lining, oh wait, he’s 50????!  Ok, so he spends all his time… visiting museums and seeing art.  He hangs out with Brian when he can and is always enamored by the exotic stories his friend tells him.  Memories of a wonderful girl Brian met in Cali Colombia who like most Caleña’s, was magic on the dance floor 😉  Or the missed flight in Auckland which caused him to stay at a nearby hotel and at the last minute got tickets to see Sarah McLachlan. Or the hidden beach he and his friends found in Goa, India.

By the time they both reach 60, they will each have earned the same amount of money (assuming Brians frequent vacations were unpaid), however one spent his retirement time early while working to earn it, the other started to spent it after he finally finished earning it.

Who do you think enjoyed their life more?  Brian, who took 3, 1 month vacations per year for 40 years starting when he was 20years old, or Winston who took 10 solid years of free time starting when he was 50 years old?   Remember that by the time they are 60, they will each have worked the same number of hours, and both will be retired.

2 thoughts on “Is the point of work to hurry up and retire, or to enjoy life as we live it?”

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