So I'd finally left the corporate world, former colleagues were avoiding my phone calls, and my friends were shaking their heads in astonishment and annoyance. I'd begun Operation Jettison Losers, shedding negative relationships that were non-responsive to resuscitation. I ventured out most days in jeans and a t-shirt (I still haven't decided on proper long-term storage techniques for unused suits and ties), headed out onto the streets toward bookstores or museums or parks or wherever, but gradually found myself spending more and more time in New York City's Chinatown. Not the touristy, Mott Street jade bric-a-brac and fortune cookie Chinatown, but the backstreet, phonecard, hardware store, noodle shop parts under the Manhattan Bridge, which were mysterious and beautiful and smelly and with some surprise waiting around every corner.I didn't know then that I was a Hero, and this was the beginning of a long journey.This type of adventure forms much of the subject matter of brainy guys like Campbell, Jung and others, who take the common threads of various myths from around the world, and note common themes or archetypes. Whether the story of Psyche or Odysseus or the Seven Samurai or Luke Skywalker, the outline pretty much goes like this: our hero heeds a call to adventure, leaving behind the security of his home; he/she encounters a sagely, supernatural helper who arms him with, say, a secret knowledge or sword or (my fave) a lightsaber. The hero proceeds to the threshold of adventure (a wood or cave or castle) which may be guarded by a dragon or somesuch, which is appeased or conquered, upon which the hero descends into the dark netherworld where he overcomes a series of obstacles (the funnest part of the tale, usually), before the main climactic battle (he/she escapes from the dungeon, mounts the stairs, kills the evil sorcerer, and recovers the magic elixer). Transformed, the hero returns to his village, elixer in hand, bestowing blessings on his peeps.What does this have to do with with li'l ol' t-shirted, midlife-crisis me, sitting in some noodle shop (let alone the message board of a personal finance media giant)? Well, unknowingly, I was following the same archetypal script.I had felt the call to adventure: nearing 40, I fled Business Land in order to pursue my interests without (for the first time) the pressure and influence of money concerns, and so discover my true passion and life's work. That's what those wonderful career books correctly emphasize, right? "Do What You Love," "Finding the Work That's Right for You," "What Color is My Lightsaber?" Simple, no? Well as a popular over-caffeinated financial pundit would say, "Wrong!" Didn't work. Doesn't work. I'll tell you why in a couple of paragraphs, if I can manage to stay focused here.See, the process of "shedding" or "stripping down" is what folks do when they early retire -- they leave behind their identity, social standing and often community -- but this "peeling away" is an essential preparation for the Hero's journey, as well. We go "Down & Out," whether in Paris, London, New York, or Gaylord, Michigan, before descending into the abyss and ultimately re-emerging on the other side, reborn.At the point when I was developing a weight problem from all the noodle cakes and Peking duck and mai fun, I was really looking for the threshold of my adventure, the entrance to the magic forest. I'd obeyed the call to adventure; I'd stripped away (or driven away with long-winded diatribes like this) many if not most of my friends and associates, and tossed aside my suit of armor and identity and titles. But what was I missing?Although I was already involved in a bunch of New Age touchy-feely pursuits -- I'd gone vegeterian, was doing tai chi, reading from the Book of the Dead -- I began considering even wilder ideas, hoping to recapture the insight and connection of those trippy college days. Should I travel to Tibet? How about popping peyote in some Native American sweat lodge and seeing with the eyes of the eagle like in the movie "Billy Jack"? Maybe Fiji....That's when I remembered Greg. (I always change people's names...I'm 'sposed to, right?) Greg told me his life story one night at a party. He was a social worker whom I had met when we were volunteers for a crisis hotline.Greg had traveled around the world (literally) in his late thirties seeking the truth. Thinking that many of what used to be called "Third World" nations are home to cultures more ancient and genuine and somehow cooler than our little slice of post-Modern, franchised hell, he had donned mufti and traversed deserts, eaten horrid squirmy things in the jungle, lived the ascetic life of the saffron-robed monk, sought out the loincloth-clad yogi, and had somehow wound up on a real desert island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. And on that island was a coconut tree, and under that tree was the island's only inhabitant: a wizzened, holy, half-naked sage...watching television (plugged into a generator) (no, I'm not making this up). And on that TV screen was..the Miss America beauty contest.It was then that Greg had his enlightenment. "I am not a Pacific Islander," he thought. "I am not Japanese, I'm not a Hindu, I didn't grow up hunting jackals or whales. I am a 40 year old Jewish guy from Queens. I'm going home."Going home, like Odysseus or Leopold Bloom or Greg, is often the last chapter of a Hero's adventure. On some level it's what we're all after.Well, remembering that story, I called Greg up and asked him to lunch. We met at Zen Palate, a trendy veggy hangout on Union Square. I told him why I'd wanted to meet: "Greg," I said, "I'm looking for something -- I don't know what -- like a jolt, or satori or burst of light that'll get me moving toward my goal of finding my true path. I'm thinking 'Tibet,' 'Arizona,' 'Fiji,' but I don't want to make a fool out of myself with some ridiculous midlife crisis fling that takes me halfway around the globe looking for something I realize is right here all along, you know?""What's wrong with being ridiculous?" says Greg."Oh c'mon. You know what I mean. Why should I go running around the planet looking for something that's not there, if I can just learn from your experience?""'Cause even if you know that it isn't the answer ahead of time, you still have to go through it yourself."This is not what I'd hoped for, not at all. I didn't know right then that in the intervening years Greg had become a therapist -- a freaking shrink! I was dead meat in this debate. I didn't know that the Hero must meet the supernatural helper, the mentor, before he can descend into the abyss, castle or Death Star."So you're saying I should go to Tibet?" I asked, undaunted."I'm saying you should think about taking the journey within...self-discovery.""That sounds good, but the whole idea of my quitting the working world was that I take time to discover my passion, not some self-involved psychological trip."Then he responded with a question that reverberates even to this day: "How can you find your passion if you've forgotten how to be passionate?"Ouch.Double-ouch.So I'd found my Yoda after all. Sword in hand, I was now prepared for my journey to begin at last.
So I'd found my Yoda after all. Sword in hand, I was now prepared for my journey to begin at last.Go, you must; but, beware of the dark side of self-discovery. -- Yoda
I want more! chazdogz, that was a fine piece of word-smithing, in my humble! Thanks. Why don't you start a WEB page and periodically update your progress toward "home"? Sure, you can post here, but this board is so active, it will be easy to miss your next installment. PLEASE?
Mdwitte asks of chazdogz:Why don't you start a WEB page and periodically update your progress toward "home"? Sure, you can post here, but this board is so active, it will be easy to miss your next installment.I like to use the board as a research tool (aside from just reading current posts). So I've spent some time learning how to manipulate the order of postings to find what I'm looking for. I would hope that chazdogz and others would continue to post to this board--and that, by learning some maneuvering tricks, the rest of us can be assured of not missing posts we want to see.Here are some tricks I use to research old posts: View by Author's Name: Say that you remember the name of the author of a post, but not the thread name. For example, you know that TheBadger offered advice on a particular tax topic.In that case, clink on the word "Customize" near the top of the screen you are now looking at (it's just under "My Portfolio"). At the top of the new page is a section called "Edit Your Favorite Boards." Go to the "Change" column, and move to the far right side, where you see the phrase "Display Settings." Click here.When the new page appears, move down to the section marked "How Should the Messages Be Sorted?" Select "By Author" and click in the "Change Settings" Box. When you return to the Retire Early board, all the posts will be arranged by author (and then by date). So you can review posts by TheBadger, zero in on the time-period when you believe the post was made, and find what you are looking for.(Note: Because of a glitch, this does not work if you have read the last post on the board. If this is so, you can change the setting, but then need to wait until someone posts before you will receive the results you want.)View by Collapsed Threads: It's much easier to search by thread name if you collapse the threads. Go to the page listing all the posts available for reading. Instead of viewing them in order of posting time (which is the easiest way to stay current with what's happening on the board), click the word "Threaded," so that all posts relating to a particular subject are placed together.This itself is a useful technique for finding old threads. But the collapse thread feature makes it easier. Click on the phrase "Collapse All" and only the first post on each thread will appear (with the number of posts in that thread noted in parentheses). You can scroll much more quickly through weeks of posts when viewing things this way. Change the Number of Posts on the Page: The "customize" screen described above also allows you to change the number of posts appearing on a screen. The default is 20, I believe. If you want a scan of recent posts, you can change this to 40 or more, and find what you are interested in less time. Sort By Number of Recommendations: If you have some idea of how many recommendations were given to a post, you can find it by clicking on the word "Recs" on the page where recent posts are listed. This orders all posts by the number of recommendations received. Use the "Search" Feature: If a post is on an unusual topic or you remember particular phrases or words used in the post, you might find it by using the "Search" feature, also on the screen listing current posts. I don't use this much because I tend to get better results with the approaches noted above, but I'm sure that there are cases where it will yield the best results. Entering the word "tax" and limiting the search to only the Retire Early board yields a little over 100 posts. That's still a lot to go through, but its a lot better than going through 5,000 posts from beginning to end. I have to add, though, that I don't have much confidence in the search-by-word feature. I tried entering the word "journey" and did not get the chazdogz post you liked so much, even though it contains the word. I don't know why. My advice is to perform a word search only when other approaches fail. I suspect that I need to play with the word search feature more to get a better idea of its benefits and limitations. There are circumstances where it would be valuable. For example, say that you want all posts where people offer their personal stories of handing in their resignation letters. You could search "resignation" and some other words that might substitute for this concept ("quit"? "reverse termination"? "reborn"?) and possibily come up with some neat stuff. This might be a useful exercise if you were trying to construct a post on the emotions faced by those about to retire early.
Congrats on being able to drop out of the rat race early.I made a decsion in my early 20's , not to pursue corporate America. I saw it as stupid game the object of which was to impress your "superiors" and trample your "inferiors." I worked enough to see that very little actually got done. Except perhaps the buying and selling of intangibiles.I was not rewarded with cash or objects of status. I was rewarded and enriched by a great self knowledge. I have always worked in so called menial positons that give insight into the workings of the human mind and personality. I have done many things from being a carnie, a hotel maid, a field worker, a nurses aide, a teachers aide, cashier, delivery driver and I am now a tax preparer.I can do almost anything with almost nothing. Some might lable me a failure because I could not see a reason for "Dressing for Success" when I spent many years working on what is in my head and in my heart.There are many things I want to accomplish ,my way, which is very real and down to to the dirt. I have no patience with the artificial.I have a roof over my head, food on the table a vehicle that gets me back and forth to work and a great view out my kitchen window. Who could ask for more? I also have people who love me. What else matters?
I agree. We must have more! (Best post in many a month to ANY board.) aw
been there, done that, from Baja to Alaska, Manchester to Austria. I know what you feel like. At 59, went back at the desk to "engineer" again, nerdy, maybe, maybe not, saw something inside that was pleasing... hope you find yours. mike
I'm curious to hear the experiences of other late 20-somethings who have been tied to their desks like slaves with stock options. The meaning of life? Maybe no answer, but great fodder for discussion.
mikesand2 said: "been there, done that, from Baja to Alaska, Manchester to Austria. I know what you feel like. At 59, went back at the desk to "engineer" again, nerdy, maybe, maybe not, saw something inside that was pleasing... hope you find yours."While I know what motivated me to RE recently at 52, and am on the same journey as our hero, I, for one, would be interested in knowing what motivated you, what compelled you, what your thought process was, for going back inside.I personally, at this point, cannot see your viewpoint but am quick to point out that I am not condemning or belittling it. Each to their own. But it is a view that this board does not often (ever?)see and I am curious what triggered the result. Thanks. NowInMaui
So, tell me .....what type of coffee do you drink??Ron GB
I enjoyed your article; I hope you don't have time to read this. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your emotional insight. Life is wonderful, no matter what you do, or who you are, if you enjoy what you are doing and in some small way return something constructive to the society in which you reside. I wish you the best. Judith
WARNING!!! Long Post Alert WARNING!!!freitasj wrote: I'm curious to hear the experiences of other late 20-somethings who have been tied to their desks like slaves with stock options.I'm not entirely sure that I qualify (I'll be 30 in April, and I have no stock options), but I like to hear myself talk (or should that be "read myself post"?), so here goes nothin.My personal chains are partly financial and partly psychological. I allowed credit card debt to pile up on me in the early 90's (note to self and others... any job which leads you to eat out because you are "too tired to cook" costs too much). Thus today I have to work to pay off my debts. Bankrupcy is not an option for the simple reason that I can pay off my debts (I'm on-track for $0 balance in 46 months), and I'm too darn proud to skip out of a debt that I can pay.Pride is one of the main reasons I started working to begin with. Yup, I've bought into that whole "you are what you do". This doesn't mean that I couldn't find meaningful tasks that do not produce financial remuneration if I wanted to, but the fact that someone is willing to *pay* me for what I like to do is a tremendous ego boost.One last thing: I'm enough of a product of the consumer-oriented American culture to want a bunch of products and services. Specifically, I want to be able to go to a store (online or other :-) and pick up whatever movie/music/software I want at any time. I also want to be able to travel to other countries every few years. In order to accomplish this, I need to sustain a certain minimum level of expenses; my current estimate requires a pre-tax income of about $50,000-65,000 per year (in current dollars). Depending on both the future rate of inflation and the quality of the stocks I pick, I figure my investments will sustain that income level between 25 and 38 years from now.As you can see, I'm one of those boring, solidly middle-class individuals who aspire to be a "Millionaire Next Door".
Thanks, for the insight. I just lost my job due to an on the job injury, and I have been trying to figure out what to do. My investments have gone well, and my debts are minimal. I have been thinking of buying a motor home (RV) and exploring the states. I have also considered starting a new career, but I don't really relish that thought.I must say that right now there is very little passion in my life, and who knows how long the good Lord has allotted us on this earth. I figure that since I am in my early fifties I might as well enjoy life. The problem will be to convince my wife.Charlie/ Calif.
and! - Matthew
and? - Matthew
Charlie/Calif. said:I must say that right now there is very little passion in my life, and who knows how long the good Lord has allotted us on this earth. I figure that since I am in my early fifties I might as well enjoy life. The problem will be to convince my wife.Art Riechert says:Rather than trying to convince my wife to retire I just let her keep working so I can stay on her Health Insurance and use the facilities at the University of Tennessee as a "Dependent Spouse." Meanwhile I am fishing for trout below the Dam at Norris, riding my bike on the bike path, swimming at the UT Aquatic Center (where a lot of my old work acquaintance swim during lunch), playing with my dogs, taking care of my Homing Pigeons, cooking great stuff, reading good books, running errands,and just generally enjoying not being in the rat race. Work really got in the way of my hobbies!
Dear Joy,Having retired several times (the first at 52)I eagerly approached your posting hoping to find even a sliver of an answer to the dilemas of retirement. I have many, many things that I would love to do: i.e., sail around the world, ride my bicycle coast to coast - so there is no lack of passion. My problem is that my retirement income does not provide enough for me to do such things while my wife continues a normal existance.I fear that you might be off on the wrong track. My feeling is that the things you mentioned and the things that Greg tried, are the things that younger people do when they want to "drop out". I have no desire to drop out. I just want to spend a few years following my passions. It is difficult to pursue both the passions and to pay for some sort of normality at the same time. I can afford to retire and do very little. That is extremely boring. Thus, I keep going back to work.The bottom line is that I was disappointed with your posting because the title had such promise. But, your problem is understandable - good luck in your search!
Dear Chaz,I sure hope that your passion is writing. I thoroughly enjoyed your post. Ah!Julie
Interesting reading everyone's takes on this subject. I spent many years searching for "the answer" and trying to find myself. Finally met my "Yoda", a person who was so magnetic I couldn't help but ask him for the secret. He told me my joy in life would be directly related to my effort to bring joy to the live's of those I come in contact with on a daily basis, (my family being on top of the list). I must admit this has proven to be true for all of the years since he imparted this wisdom on me. All of that self searching and looking inside blinded me from the joy of getting out of self. I have found that my life depends on my constant thought of others and how I may help meet their needs. It doesn't get much better than this!
What is so wrong with working? I'm sitting out here in Corporate America, among the rat race...a cog in the machine. Am I less of a person for working 48 hours a week, earning a living, providing for my family, and contributing to society (if nothing else the Uncle Sam must apreciate his 28%)?Is this fulfilling or spiritually enriching? No, some days I despise my job, other days I think it's pretty swell. I do approach life with a sense of humor, take the good with the bad, and try to put the world (and specifically my job) into perspective. I'm not nearing nirvana, but I would not want to trade positions with anyone else, in any position, with any amount of wealth, and working in any (or lack of any) job, because I would likely have to give up who I am in order to do that.In the end paths less traveled and journeys of realization sound keen, but the real journey to self-fulfillment probably begins with a trip to the nearest mirror.
What is so wrong with working?Nothing, if that's what you really want to do.But, some of us on this board, or more likely most of us, have decided that working our entire lives, until we drop from exhaustion, is probably not the way WE want to live.I for one, don't think I (or anyone else with any sense) will be laying on my deathbed (hopefully MANY, MANY years from now) and wishing that I worked one more day, or filed one more report that no one paid any attention to.In the end paths less traveled and journeys of realization sound keen, but the real journey to self-fulfillment probably begins with a trip to the nearest mirror. Yes, you're right. And most of us here have probably already been to that mirror. Methinks you should treat yourself to one of those soul-searching trips.
Bryherm: As a relatively new ER (52 - several months RE) I understand your point. There is nothing wrong with working if that is what YOU choose to do. No one on this board thinks less of you for doing so. I, like you, enjoyed working and my contribution to society until it simply became overwhelming and started to suck the very life out of me.But I will tell you one truth (at least for me): Until you get out of the day to day grind, you will not truly be able to unclutter your mind of work issues, take the time look in the nearest mirror and begin a journey to self-fulfillment. All the RE board does, as well as the REHP, is to give one the tools with which to take the leap and begin that incredible and wonderful journey.As one who has now done both - work and RE - I can say this to you (as nicely as one can): Don't knock retirement/not working or the idea of taking the road less traveled and seeking self-fulfillment until you've tried it. Good luck. I hope you find the same happiness that I have found, even if it means working 48 hours a week. NowInMaui
Am I less of a person for working 48 hours a week, earning a living, providing for my family, and contributing to society (if nothing else the Uncle Sam must apreciate his 28%)?Are you less of a person? Only you can answer that. Nobody here will try to force you to retire early. Do you think that people who don't get paychecks can't possibly be contributing to society?I would not want to trade positions with anyone else...working in any (or lack of any) job, because I would likely have to give up who I am in order to do that.This sounds a little like "I am defined by what I am paid to do (or put up with)." If you're comfortable with that, then cool. Nobody here will tell you that you aren't.In the end paths less traveled and journeys of realization sound keen, but the real journey to self-fulfillment probably begins with a trip to the nearest mirror.When I look in the mirror, I see a recovering wage slave. I see a person who doesn't yet have as much time as he wants to devote to making other people's lives better (but soon will). I see a person who knows the answer to the following questions.1.) If you were knew you had enough, would you still be doing what you are doing?2.) Do you believe more is the enemy of enough?3.) Do you require a career, a paycheck or a boss to validate your existence?My answers were no, yes, no.4goneFool
How about a date?GoofyFroze
The problem is, I do not think you should travel in space to find yourself. Yourself is here, there everywhere, or is nowhere. Work is part of life, now we work for money, once we worked to hunt animals in the forest, the important thing is to do the work you like and seek for your own satisfaction and personal growth while working. If you think you have to find yourself and start running around in order to do so, you are just partecipating to a different rat race and found nothing at all.I love travelling, but it should not be escaping or there is something wrong. On the other hand , I am an European living in Europe (thanks God), have enough holidays, live in a nice place, have my week-ends for me and lots of evenings activities like theatre. Perhaps I am not well placed to talk about the average american worker situation...cheers,cristina.
"True Truth" and enlightenment are never found in a place, whether without (traveling the world) or within (the inner person). They can be found only in a Person -- the Person who said, "I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end." He also said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me." This is One who was raised from the grave on the third day after His death on a cross in payment of our (mine and yours) sin-debt to God, never to die again. This is the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the Lord Jesus Christ.While I respect the fact that everyone's religion is their own, and that everyone has the right to an opinion about it, I really don't think that this is a good forum for religous discussions. They have a tendency to get personal, violent, and incredibly offtopic very quickly.
Have courage. I am also beginning that journey -- is there a life after Wall Street? I am (reluctantly) working with an analyst. The mind is much harder to unpeel than our costumes.Meanwhile, I struggle when I meet people. What do I say I do? How do I show the world that I'm somebody important? I used to be a contender!! -- Just lately, I've started to admit that I am playing, and it feels wonderful.
Meanwhile, I struggle when I meet people. What do I say I do? How do I show the world that I'm somebody important? I used to be a contender!! -- Just lately, I've started to admit that I am playing, and it feels wonderful. - just tell them you are a "capitalist"
Meanwhile, I struggle when I meet people. What do I say I do? How do I show the world that I'm somebody important? I used to be a contender!! -- Just lately, I've started to admit that I am playing, and it feels wonderful.Just tell them you're an investment manager and that you have an exclusive contract with one retired client. Then tell them there's good money in it, but your contract doesn't allow you to advise anyone else.If they persist, give them the URL to the REHP.4goneFool
From Webster's:Noble: grand; stately; splended; magnificientChazdogz, you embark on a noble quest. I believe you will find what you are seeking after. Don't forget to pick up a few companions on the way; your concern for them will keep you at arms length from the dark side.In the meantime, remember to make use of your lightsabre. I think most here would agree that you have gained great proficiency with your instrument of choice. If a pen be mightier than a sword, how much more a keyboard over special effects?And remember, don't settle for the power of just any force, even if it can augment the baser aspects of your human nature. There is a "Force," and it shall be with you. 4&26
I liked the "hero's journey" piece, though resisting the notion of anything so basic being heroic. I've been unheroically doing something similar, though with fifteen years on the author's 40-odd. That is, I hung into the career for nearly three decades before I pulled the plug six years ago. Also, it's true, I didn't sever the tie completely, instead staying involved through the magic medium of Consulting (in my case, international energy ventures). I'd been in the Foreign Service, so there was no interest in Tibet or Fiji; instead, the quest for location was reduced to Stateside -- not that it was simple, because my wife and I somewhat disagree on where we like living (she likes cities; I like the beach). We eventually settled on two homes, dividing our time between them.There's been no Yoda in my quest, at least not yet. There have been friends, on the one hand, and clients, on the other -- NEVER, by the way, confuse one with another. But it has been an adventure!I look forward to what I assume will be more of the Hero's prose. Thanks, Fools.
An excellent post, chazdogz. I am looking forward for your "Joy of Not Working IV" 8-)
Dear Chaz, how has it been so long since your final post left us hanging, waiting for more? Come back, dude. You're missed.Bob Sutton
I went back and looked at this post and thank you Bob Sutton for posting it. It took my breath away. I looked at the date of it and it's Feb.2000, before my time here on the Fool. Chaz only posted three times and all three are great. He or she writes really well and I too would like to read more about his journey. His second post was on friendships...http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=12021701I wish there was some way to look these posters up to get them to come back and write more.LuckyDog
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