Let me tell you about my day. I woke up this Saturday morning and brushed my teeth with the baby. We played for a little bit and tried to feed her some brunch (smashed peas). After, we went to our neighborhood pool and put her in the water for the first time. I use the words “in the water” loosely, as we may have gotten one half of one toe into the baby wading pool while she clung to me for dear life. It lightly rained just about the whole time we were there.
After the pool, we went to the grocery store and did some price comparison shopping for our upcoming food revolution, where we’ll be cutting out all meat except fish. We bought several things and the baby fell asleep somewhere in the produce section (not by herself; we were holding her). After, we got some Chicken Fries from BK and went home. When the baby woke up, I brought her outside to pick tomatoes from our blossoming plant, washed our car in the driveway, got the Saturday mail, sat on the porch while watching her tear apart the junk mail, and played with the garden hose (she LOVES the garden hose). Inside, my wife cooked an astoundingly good mushroom pasta and, bless her heart, she did all the cleanup.
After a standing dinner, I watched Frozen with the baby–an unbelievably good movie, although I’m probably the last person left on earth who hadn’t seen it. After the movie, it was bedtime. I put on her sleeping music playlist on my phone and walked her around. The main floor at our big house was dark, and the house was quiet as even the cats started to get tired of chasing each other. Yes, all was right with the world, except my mind couldn’t shut up…
Despite the apparent serenity of a lovely day, my mind couldn’t stop racing. I have six chapters to read, an exam to take, and six small assignments due tomorrow (Sunday) for two accounting courses I’m taking enroute to my CPA (so I can maybe do income taxes during my retirement for some side income). I’m writing a proposal for my company and a refined draft is due for a 5pm conference call tomorrow (also on Sunday). Our basement is still far from finished and I have several items on the checklist slated for this week that weigh on my mind. My checklist for 9-to-5 job items is about 5-to-9 things long. My draft articles for Retire29 stand at 18 and Retire29 maintenance items stand at 12–all of which need to be addressed sooner, rather than later. Then, I have this whole “early retirement” thing, which necessitates that I continue to try to redouble my efforts on a periodic basis to bring in more readers, write more content, make more money, buy more dividend stocks, and make every effort possible to sell our luxury cars and cut our expenses so I can retire in a few years. As I walk around putting the baby to sleep, the stress is constricting my thoughts and my thoughts are competing for priority and my brain is filtering out what can wait and I need to watch my step so I don’t step on anything because the baby was throwing around the recipe books again and the cat litter needs changing and the battery of the phone that is in my pocket playing the soft sleep music is now about to die and I don’t know where the charger is and…
Look at the baby.
I stop my mind. I stop and I look at the baby. That baby probably just had the best day of her short little life. Mommy and Daddy were both home all day with her. We played outside, went to the pool, walked around the block, ate, watched a movie, sang, rolled around on the floor together, we were a family today. We were a family on a normal Saturday in our lives. And, in her head, she’s slowly falling asleep on daddy’s shoulder, with soft music in her ear, excited to wake up tomorrow to have another great day with her family.
I often get so caught up in what my life is going to be, that I stop appreciating my life in this moment. When I felt like screaming tonight, under the weight of so many “to-do’s,” I realized that all those “to-do’s” were plans for a future life that will (hopefully) look exactly like the moment I’m living right now.
I took the baby outside onto our deck. Our deck is one of the only ones in the neighborhood that gets any use from its owners partly because I use it as a “zeroing in” station in moments like these. We looked up at the stars. I pulled the baby off my chest and stared into her tired eyes and said to her, “you are the best part of life. I appreciate this moment I have with you right now. Thank you for being such a great baby. My heart feels full.” And, with that, we walked around the deck a bit longer before we stepped back inside. It was a perfect moment for us, and is a microcosm of my perfect life.
There’s Always a Plan
John Lennon said that Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. I almost committed this dreadful error tonight. I had a beautiful day with my family, and I nearly took it for granted as I spent most of it worrying, planning, and setting expectations for something more. What can be more than this, though? It is moments and days like these that I will look back on years from now and appreciate that they occurred. But, imagine the happiness that is possible if I can appreciate them as they occur.
Most of the folks that are reading this are probably a pretty ambitious bunch. We all have plans for great lives tomorrow, or next year, or several years down the road. We have plans for our financial independence, early retirement, and total freedom. But, don’t get lost in plans. Your. Life. Is. Right. Now.
Your thoughts can live in the future, and that’s okay for a little bit of your being. But, most of your being should be directed at making every day count. You can do this. How? Increase your sensory activities. Listen to music–you can only listen to music in the present. Dance. Touch your spouse, give them a massage, hug, kiss, make love. Wrestle with your kids. Savor your food. Do nothing today for five minutes–a classic “live in the moment” activity. Do something that has intrinsic satisfaction, that feels good because it feels good, not because it sets you up for a better future or whatever else.
Understand that there will always be a plan in your life. There will always be a pasture just around the bend with greener grasses that what is around you now. The problem, though, is that what is around you now is all that you’ll ever have. You only have now, you never have tomorrow.
My financially independent totally free self is already a guarantee. I’ve already set up all my payroll deductions and transfers to essentially guarantee I can retire at, worst case, maybe 37 years old. With aggressive behavior, a bit of luck, and consistent and dedicated action, then I’m looking at 34 years old. But, no matter which of those it is, it’s going to happen, so why not just come to that acceptance and start living today for today? There is a lifetime of living between right now and the moment I retire, so why mortgage that in exchange for some future life that will be only as good as the moments I can make today?
Make your plans. Automate them. Then, Live Your Life.
Maybe I’ll start doing that…today.
This is a a bit of a touchy feely post, but touching and feeling is good for the soul.
Thanks for reading Retire29.