Serendipity DaysPosted: July 29, 2015
Mr 1500 just posted about the chance days that set him on the path to FI. Serendipity is a wonderful concept – for all our planning and toil, it is the chancest of events and encounters that truly shape our lives. It got me thinking about my own serendipity days. The following six are what immediately come to mind.
Day 1: Meeting the Alchemist – Having the right life partner has meant so much. There are so many moments I could pick from our lives, but the most serendipitous would have to be the day we actually met. By chance, we sat next to each other on the very first day of orientation in college. We struck it off (as friends) right away but surprised few when that friendship blossomed into something else half a year later. Another half a year and we were engaged. Yeah, we were young, foolish, and in love. That love has endured and shaped us into who we are today.
Lots of folks journey to FI alone but for all my (and the Alchemist’s, for that matter) lone-wolf tendencies, we’re so much better with a partner. And I’ve read so many stories about those who yearn for freedom from wage slavery only to find themselves at odds with their SO, so I’m glad we see (mostly) eye-to-eye on this. I want nothing more than for us to be free, together.
Day 2: Alpha is born to young, scared parents – Having your first child at 21 (22 for the Alchemist) is hard. Parenthood is hard enough emotionally and financially, but having a child that young increases the challenge considerably. You’d think the last thing a journey to FI would count as serendipitous is having your first child that young, but to be honest, having kids that early saved us from at lot of stupid money mistakes. Not saying we didn’t make many mistakes in our twenties, but the responsibility of parenthood kept us from making even worse mistakes. Entering our early thirties we’re in a solid foundation, our kids are happy and healthy, and they’ll be all on their way to independence of their own by the time we’re much past 40. Many advocate waiting until 30s and a secure financial footing before having kids but having kids when we did influenced our path together more than almost anything else.
Day 3: Admitting failure in graduate school – The less said about my time in a PhD program, the better. Admitting defeat for financial, emotional, and physical health reasons was a really good decision for both of us – but very hard for my vanity. I was always told how smart I was, growing up and in undergraduate college, but hit the wall hard in graduate school. I should have admitted defeat after the first semester, or even the first year, but instead added 3 more semester’s worth of debt to our names. Quitting put us on the path where the Alchemist is the primary offensive player and I became the defensive player. It took another six years before I no longer had to have a job to supplement our income, and could focus on the at-home life.
Day 4: Low Information Diet – The first article I read that truly shifted my worldview was MMM’s article about the low information diet. Together with its sister post rehashing Stephen Covey’s (and, technically, Stoicisms) concept of the circles of control, influence, and concern this has done wonders for my mental headspace. I used to be the consummate politics and news junkie, constantly agitated and worried about things out of my control. Now? I’m not perfect, but my concerns almost exclusively remain limited to the things under my influence and/or complete control. This is a much, much better way to live life and tremendously aids living in a counter-cultural way.
Day 5: Returning to MMM and lighting a FIRE under us – I think it was two or three months later that I went back to MMM’s blog, perhaps to share the link to the low-information diet post, perhaps just looking for whatever else the man had written. I poked around a few random links and was hooked. I ended up spending an entire month devouring his backlog cover to cover and my relationship to our finances transformed. Outside of a bad house purchase and poor education choices, we made very few financial mistakes, but lived mostly paycheck-to-paycheck. The months – and now years – since first reading MMM have shifted us from merely treading water in the deep waves to now firmly swimming for the freedom of the shore.
Day 6: Deciding that a small garden would be a great addition to homeschooling – Two years ago all I had for a garden was an oddly arranged collection of plants in a 4×8 foot raised bed. The kids enjoy seeing things grow, even when vegetables aren’t their favorites, but that small garden hooked me in a way I could never have anticipated. I love having a deep and abiding connection to the earth, and growing some part of our own food. Gardening has been incredibly therapeutic for me and it’s a hobby I look forward to learning for the rest of my life.
What days of serendipity have you had?