Three weeks in the past, I drove from Portland to Colorado Springs to take part in Camp FI, a weekend retreat for folks occupied with monetary independence and early retirement.
Under regular circumstances, I would not drive this distance. It’s a 1300-mile journey that takes at the very least twenty hours to cowl. Or, in case you’re me, it is a 1400-mile journey that takes 23 hours of driving unfold over two days.
But, in case you have not observed, we’re in the midst of a world pandemic, and though I’m not almost as cautious as lots of my associates, I do not relish the thought of confining myself to shut quarters with dozens of strangers for hours on finish in an airplane. Besides, I wish to drive. And I like the great thing about the American west. And I wanted a while alone to suppose deep ideas — and to take heed to the Hamilton soundtrack over and again and again.
Around midday on Day Two, as I exited I-80 in south-central Wyoming, I used to be listening to Hamilton for the fourth time in 24 hours once I was smacked within the mind by a lyric I hadn’t heard earlier than. I pulled off the aspect of the highway to consider it — and to make some notes.
Wait for It
For these few who’re unfamiliar, Hamilton is a hip-hop musical that tells the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton and his contentious relationship with, properly, everybody — particularly Aaron Burr. Burr is the nominal antagonist of the present (though, actually, he’s no villain), Hamilton’s most distinguished frenemy. Burr can be a fancy character.
Alexander’s greatest beef with Aaron is that his rival appears wishy-washy, as if he has no ethical compass. (“If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for?” Hamilton asks early on. It’s a query he asks repeatedly all through the present.) To Burr, although, this chameleon-like nature is not a personality flaw. It’s a survival mechanism. It’s a power. He’s adaptable and affected person; he believes Hamilton is simply too loud and too reckless.
Each main character in Hamilton will get a tune to outline who and what they’re. Burr’s tune, “Wait for It”, comes in the midst of the primary act.
Life would not discriminate between the sinners and the saints. It takes and it takes and it takes, and we hold dwelling anyway. We rise and we fall and we break and we make our errors. And if there is a purpose I’m nonetheless alive when so many have died, then I’m keen to attend for it.
And then Burr says: “I am the one thing in life I can control.” I’d by no means truly heard that line earlier than. But there, in the midst of the rolling Wyoming hills, the lyric hit me like a ton of bricks.
This is a robust line within the context of Hamilton, certain, however for me personally, it is one thing near a tenet. I’ve written extensively in regards to the energy (and necessity) of being self-directed. It’s one of many major themes of this web site.
But this is the factor: As essential as this notion is to me, I generally lose sight of it. This is especially true when my struggles with psychological well being turn into extreme, when the melancholy and anxiousness threaten to drag me underneath. In these moments, I neglect about personal agency and locus of control and associated concepts. When I’m within the throes of melancholy, every thing is overwhelming (even the straightforward stuff), and it appears like I’m answerable for nothing.
A Very Strange Year
This has been an odd 12 months. I do know, I do know. Everybody’s saying it. But it is true! And whereas we, as a society, are “enjoying” this loopy 12 months collectively, my very own private 2020 has had its personal particular taste of weirdness.
As you may recall, 2019 sucked for me. Objectively, my life was nice, and I may see that. But subjectively, I used to be depressing. My life-long melancholy reached some form of crescendo and was made particularly spicy because of some new, unwelcome generalized anxiousness. Mental well being points stopped me in my tracks final 12 months.
After a number of months working with a therapist, I made some progress. In January of this 12 months, I took a break from alcohol and commenced waking at 4:00 or 4:30. It took a few weeks to regulate to this new routine, however by mid-January I felt nice and was having fun with my biggest productiveness in years. Yay!
As our nation (and the world) descended into chaos in March, April, and May, I nonetheless felt nice. I used to be insanely productive, each for enterprise initiatives (similar to creating my upcoming FIRE course for Audible) and family initiatives (similar to landscaping the again yard). I used to be flying excessive. There was a stark distinction between the general temper of the world round me and my private temper. I virtually felt responsible. (It’s an odd factor once you’re doing properly individually whereas so many different individuals are struggling. I’m undecided I prefer it.)
Then, in mid-June, issues went haywire. Slowly at first — then abruptly — my melancholy and anxiousness roared again with full power. I discovered myself paralyzed by worry as soon as extra. Blarg! Was I ingesting an excessive amount of beer? Taking on an excessive amount of work? Overwhelmed by present occasions? Flustered by chaos right here on the homestead? (Our fence fell down. The scorching tub broke. The fridge is dying. The sewer line is clogged. And so on.) Whatever the trigger, I’d reached a darkish place by the tip of June.
It felt like my life was uncontrolled. Like Alexander Hamilton, I felt like I used to be stuck inside a hurricane.
Fortunately, I acknowledged the issue rapidly. And that second in Wyoming — listening to Burr sing “I am the one thing in life I can control” — was key, a wake-up name. It jogged my memory of my philosophy. I spotted that I used to be focusing an excessive amount of on my “circle of concern” moderately than my “circle of control”.
I fought again.
During July, I took a number of steps to fight my melancholy. Among others:
- I ended ingesting alcohol. I had my final drinks on Independence Day. My aim is to go one 12 months with out the stuff. No, I’m not being 100% strict. If I discover myself in a social scenario the place it is higher to drink than to make a fuss, I’ll drink. But not a lot. And these conditions needs to be uncommon certainly. (I’ve had one such event since Independence Day.)
- I referred to as my physician to ask about medicine. While I’m not against meds, I typically do not like them for myself. I do not just like the unintended effects. Plus, I’ve this silly concept that I should not want them. Well, in actuality I do want them, that a lot is evident. So, we’re taking part in with issues to see what works.
- I uninstalled my stupid videogame. (Again.) If you are a long-time reader, you recognize that computer games are my kryptonite. And in small doses, there’s nothing unsuitable with gaming. It could be a good way to calm down! But when I’m in one in every of my funks, gaming turns into an escape, a method for me to keep away from actuality. Until I’m transferring ahead underneath my very own steam once more, it is best that I merely keep away from the temptation completely.
- I shifted bodily health to my prime precedence. Like it or not, my physique picture has a profound impact on my general self picture. I want this weren’t the case, nevertheless it’s true. Plus, consuming proper and exercising is conducive to lengthy life and an efficient approach to struggle melancholy. So, with assist from my buddy Jonathan at Choose FI, I’m embarking on a six-month quest to lose thirty kilos. (I’ll write extra about this quickly.)
In brief, I ended permitting myself to be a sufferer of exterior forces and began exercising company. I’m the one factor in life I can management. I must train that management in no matter methods I can. It’s the one method out of the pit of despair.
It’s far too early to say how a lot these modifications (and others I’m making) will assist me, however I’m assured that issues will enhance in brief order. They have already got to some extent. I imply, the very first thing I needed to do that morning was write an article for Get Rich Slowly! (And I’ve a listing of different issues to jot down about too.)
Coming Out of the Dark
During my two weekends at Camp FI in Colorado Springs, I spoke in regards to the true historical past of monetary independence and early retirement. (These concepts have been round for much longer than most individuals suppose.) My speak was tough, and I do know it, however I hope to develop it into an attention-grabbing and helpful presentation in years to come back. And I hope to share a written model of this presentation right here at Get Rich Slowly within the close to future.
But for me, Camp FI is much less about sharing what I do know and extra about connecting with like-minded associates and colleagues. I had a blast each weekends. I frolicked with new associates and outdated.
I obtained to spend a little bit of time with Michelle Jackson (who’s one in every of my favourite folks). Between weekends, I spent 4 nights in Mr. Money Mustache‘s basement. He and I hiked, swam in a creek, and had deep conversations on his pleasant deck. I had lunch with Piggy from Bitches Get Riches (and met her chickens). I additionally had lunch with John from ESI Money. I obtained to know Mr. Refined from Refined by Fire. And so on.
By the ultimate evening of the second weekend, I used to be extra relaxed than I’ve been in months. Maybe years. As I sat outdoors with the die-hards till the wee hours of the morning, telling tales and laughing, I felt alive. I felt myself. I felt as if I had been answerable for issues as soon as extra.
My highway journey helped me re-realize one thing else essential about my melancholy and anxiousness. My struggling is intensified once I spend an excessive amount of time alone. I really feel higher about myself (and my fellow people) once I work together with different folks, whether or not associates or strangers. I genuinely like folks. They’re superb. I must do a a lot better job of in search of out human contact if I wish to keep my psychological well being!
If solely we weren’t within the midst of a world pandemic…