Two men, two journeys--who got it right?

Two men, two journeys--who got it right?

 True story: There was a man, a tradesman, who saved every cent he could. His wife shopped on coupons, and he worked overtime at every opportunity. He cashed in his leave rather than take a holiday, and when somebody needed cover on the job, he was there… because he had a dream. A meant to retire at 50 and enjoy life.

He died at the age of 49 at work, alone on the night shift, due to a heart attack. His children were young when he died, and his widow lived lavishly, but what good was that to him dead?

True story: Another man from the same city, of about the same age, travelled the world, often living out of a car. He would build his campfire by the side of the road in some remote region of the globe and enjoy the sunset with a steak, a glass or two or three of vodka and his cigarettes.

This second man didn’t have much money but earned a living working as a tradesman for a few weeks or months at a time at a mine, on a farm, or in a factory. He lost two wives and estranged his two children–although one was reconciled and by his side at the end.

In his old age, the Government paid his rent and gave him money for food, necessities and one or two luxuries; he had his computer, his books and his TV (Sky and Netflix), and somebody came around to mow his lawns every couple of weeks (courtesy of Kainga Ora). He died in his mid-70s. He had travelled widely, drunk deeply from the well of life, and was ready.

Who was smarter? The first man or the second man?

You might argue it’s a matter of context, but is it? Is it wiser to live for the future (shoring up hope for a better time) Or to live in the present?

It might be a question of balance. But how possible is ‘balance’? We have a cost-of-living crisis, threats and omens of a recession, pandemic lockdowns, and obscene house prices… It seems to be that finding a balance may be a tad tough.

Maggie Rowe, author of Easy Street: A Story of Redemption from Myself, and TV writer for such shows as Arrested Development and Flaked, writes: “What if everything didn’t have to be a springboard for something else?”

We say ‘enjoy the journey, but is that possible if most of what we do is about ensuring we can retire well?

These are my takes on what it means to enjoy the journey:

  1. Invest in your children (in your family). Raise good human beings who are loved and as ready for the world as they can be.
  2. Give most of your time to family and friends so that you are not alone in the end.
  3. Spend time and money on experiences with other people, not stuff–most good experiences are free.

What do you think?


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