Early FI – Road Trips and Mind Tricks

by FI Fighter on November 27, 2018

in Self Improvement, Thoughts, Thoughts

One of the greatest compliments that I think I can ever receive in life is if someone who really knows me tells me the following:

Jay, I’ve known you for a long time now, and you’re always the same dude.

The above comment might not seem like much, and albeit it can read rather vague if there’s no context behind it, but for a simple dude like myself, that’s really all I want out of life.

Let me elaborate a bit…

It’s no secret that the life I’m living right now is rather unconventional and it’s quite easy for me to say that because even I know myself that I don’t really have a “gameplan” in place, and for the most part, I’m just winging it in life…

But what I appreciate more than anything else is that knowing this world is a really BIG ASS PLACE, I’ve been more fortunate than most to actually have had the wonderful opportunity to be able to live in a few different countries already in my life.

You take the experiences/learnings from here and there, and well, you just kinda piece things together and the whole of everything is pretty much who you are, in a nutshell.

For myself, going back and forth, all over the map with all these different road trips (or whatever you want to call them) can’t help but trip me out a ton, and play some serious (Jedi) mind tricks…

I mean, I grew up poor, and even when I was a little kid, I knew that my family was a bit different from most of the other ones around town…

You could say it was a very humbling experience from the early days, hearing stories about your own parents/grandparents “prior lives” and how they came from not a lot and used to eat nothing more than soy sauce with rice for (many) meals… because they couldn’t afford much else… That, or how my background is a family of refugees who arrived in America with nothing more than a few suitcases… and were people who didn’t even speak any English upon arrival.

But they still did their best to live each day with a smile on their face, despite all the early struggles…

The above is a pic from way back, when my family first arrived in Silicon Valley (it wasn’t really known as Silicon Valley back then, but just “farm land”).

Anyway, you know, stuff like that…

Humble beginnings…

But then “adulthood” happened, and you could say I experienced a complete 180 of sorts…

 I worked hard, got educated, and was fortunate enough to find employment (a white collar job in Corporate America), earning more money (and prestige/respect) than I ever thought I would amount to when I was much younger…

Although my own engineering career was arguably “way too short” in duration, I will always be grateful for it because for me it was akin to playing a videogame with Game Genie on my side

Even though I really REKT my health in the process by being too uptight and serious, ultimately, in the big picture, I just couldn’t lose…

It was my ticket to the “good life”…

And yes, there’s no denying that after awhile, once you get used to a certain life (and lifestyle), it can arguably be a little tough to re-orient yourself and remember what life used to be like…

Not saying there’s a right or wrong answer or anything like that, but for whatever the reason, subconsciously I’ve always kind of felt the need to return to “steady state” if you will, and get back in touch with the basics and more simple way of life.

Living in Silicon Valley is pretty awesome, no question, but you know, so much of that part of the world is really dealing with “first world problems” on a regular basis…

Right now, I’m back in Manila for round 2, and in some ways I appreciate the fact that I’m somewhat humbled again…

For starters, Manila has arguably some of the worst traffic on this planet, where from Monday-Saturday, you’re pretty much stuck in rush hour traffic, no matter where you are, or where you want to go… or what time it is…

Also, it doesn’t really matter what your mode of transportation is (believe me I’ve pretty much tried them all looking for a shortcut), but for example, here’s what the queue can look like waiting for a bus at noon…

It’s not glamorous at all, and most of the time, I’m electing to travel the same way as most of the locals… A single bus ride runs on the order of 13 pesos (~$0.25 USD)…

If it’s not waiting in line for the bus, then I usually rely on the MRT light rail, which isn’t that much more expensive than a single bus ride ticket…

But just like the bus, the wait for the next MRT train can be excruciatingly long…

This ain’t like Hong Kong or Japan…

Further…

If you really wanna get acquainted to the “school of hard knocks” there really ain’t nothing like taking a ride on the MRT around rush hour on a HOT + HUMID day…

Jam packed like sardines into a train with very little ventilation… The air con is like hit or miss, mostly miss…

The following pic is a “dream” of what an MRT ride can look like when it’s actually not crowded (1% chance) inside…

Or you can try getting around town in a jeepney where it’s guaranteed to have zero air con…

Trikes are actually much welcomed and quite a fun ride around this time of year, at night after the sun has set and there is a “cool” breeze…

Anyway, you might be wondering why I’m bringing all this up and making it such a frequent topic of conversation around here on this blog?

The reason is quite simple, really — Life is complicated but can be made infinitely more simple once we stop and put things in proper perspective. The thing about human nature is that no matter what our situation is, it’s too easy to want and desire more.

Once you start down the path of feeling like you need more to be happy, it starts a never-ending perpetual feedback loop of chasing (i.e. the rat race) where no matter what you achieve/accomplish/obtain, you’re just never content.

Therefore, by forcing myself to “face a certain reality”, I’m finding that peace of mind and genuine happiness becomes so much more tangible and within reach.

 

I mean, just re-visiting the whole transportation thing in the Philippines, once you get used to getting around town in: MRT, buses, jeepneys, trikes, etc. it becomes, quite frankly, “the way of life” around here, so why be a snob about it?

Yes, this is all coming from a guy who has stated on many occasions that he immensely enjoys traveling on business class whenever he flies around the globe on a plane…

Does that make me a hypocrite?

Maybe…

Probably?

I dunno, and to be honest, I really don’t care…

I know I’m NOT perfect, but the thing most wonderful/scary/crazy about the whole early FI lifestyle is as I keep re-stating and re-iterating on this blog ad nauseum is that there are no rules…

Life is definitely NOT purely black/white, and once you’re in early FI, that becomes so readily apparent… especially if you’re the traveling nomadic type who has visited/lived in many different places in the world.

For instance, when I’m in HK, I “tap” into a different version of me…

It’s still me…

But life (and the people) in Repulse Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui, just as an example, can be quite “different” from what you’ll find in Manila…

“Different” but I’m finding you can more or less have a good time anywhere…

After all, people are people

Anyway…

I must say, I really enjoy going on road trips and even more so, I look forward to fucking up my mind, even more so…

I’ve met so many wonderful/awesome people already in this world, and over time, I’m finding it even easier to connect with more and more people, because I think the hodgepodge of life experiences I’ve acquired helps me relate more… on a human level.

So, long story short, in order for me to really “know myself” and to find “true happiness”, I have this incessant need to get back to humble beginnings…

By immersing myself in a world where the majority of people are just grateful to have a few blessings (almost all of it entirely NOT related to any material goods/objects), I’m finding this whole early FI journey a lot more enjoyable… and easier to tackle.

 

Perhaps, now with all this context behind it, readers can better understand where I’m coming from and why the quote/compliment I mentioned at the beginning of this article means so much to me…

 

Fundamentally speaking, I really just don’t want to change… In an ideal world, I can just be myself, and stuff like money/status wouldn’t mean anything… Having something like your job title or amount of $$$ in your bank account define who you are as a person is a sad reality, in my own eyes, and something I’m hoping to avoid, if I can help it…

 

With all that said, I realize full well that I need to get back to writing (blogging) and especially back on track with investing/speculating and all that stuff…

 

Still, a lot of the life experiences and “growing” and “maturing” aspects are what highlight the actual early FI journey, so I thought I would share my own thoughts…

 

As always, I’m still a work in progress and trying to figure things out as I go…

 

Fight On!

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