Oh wow Ladies and Gentlemen,
What an epic drive that was.
I knew Sydney traffic is bad but man oh man, is it ever so bad tonight.
What is normally a 40 minute journey took an hour and 50 minutes.
Mind you, I don’t mind the traffic – there’s always something to do in the car you see.
Eating an early dinner, getting started on the night’s drinking, dirty sexting your partner, levelling up on Clash of Clans – so many things to occupy your time as you drive.
Whilst I don’t mind partaking in the above, personally I prefer listening to podcasts and affirmations – it’s usually the only time I have to do so.
Call me strange but if I’m not in a hurry, I enjoy sitting in the car slowly crawling along.
There’s something relaxing about letting go of the control.
All the roads are log-jammed, so why bother trying?
After all, it’s like being in a giant, metallic, Uber-bubble.
Wind up the windows, put a podcast on, snack on some munchies and just unwind…
But today was a bit different.
Somewhere between the third and fourth episode of Freakonomics I looked at the young lady on my left – yelling into her phone, I looked at the old couple to my right – squabbling with each other, and wondered whether this was worth it for everyone.
To be stuck on the roads or on public transport, inching our way home.
Sydney is like that these days. Growing up and even a few years ago – traffic was nowhere near these levels.
But as population has increased, our road infrastructure is nowhere near the standard to support the growth.
Hence more roads being built, hence more roadworks, hence more roads being shut, hence more cars jammed into fewer routes.
Will the congestion get better?
Being a reluctant taxpayer, I bloody well hope so!
But ultimately no matter how you see it, if given a preference – practically everyone would want to get to A to B as quickly as possible.
Only problem is that it seems to be as slowly as possible these days… no wonder everyone has short fuses!
“So TheFrugalSamurai, what are you saying?”
Well, way I see it – this all rolls into the bigger picture of the why.
If you choose to live and work in a global city such as Sydney, you have to take the good with the bad.
That is why you need to choose your path carefully.
In my opinion, there are four main pathways.
The consistent path.
The path where you start work at 20, work consistently for 50 years to retire at 70 but take your 4 weeks of annual leave each year to travel and recharge.
Nothing wrong with this life, the majority of us try to attain a smooth and steady approach. It works.
You put up with the 2 hour drives just as easily as the regular 40 minute ones. It makes you frustrated each day, but all is well when you reach home.
The hard path.
Then there is the path where you start work at 20, work hard for 25 years to retire at 45. You rarely take time off and you want to reach the destination ASAP.
You’re too busy hustling and negotiating on the phone to notice how long the drive is, and you can’t wait to reach home to fire up the laptop. You set goals, you reach goals, you set more goals – hence begins the climb to the pinnacle.
If this is you – you go get em tiger! Just remember to come up for air once in a while and smell the roses when you can! You’d be amazed at how sweet they are.
The Avant-garde path.
What about the avant-garde (fancy French words) path whereby you start work at 20, work here and there for 10 years, take a few years off in between to see the world and discover yourself – work for another 10 years, take a further few years off to live in SE Asia and come back to work for a few years before deciding to relocate back to SE Asia for good.
You don’t drive. You’ve hitchhiked across Europe, you’ve climbed Mt Kilimanjaro, you’ve swam with dolphins in the Pacific, you’ve got lost in the Favelas, you found love in India. No, you don’t drive.
W…wow… what an amazing life, if this is you… damn you… damn you good.
The FIRE path.
Ah now we’re onto something. The FIRE path is trying to find a balance between all of the previous – grinding consistently at the day-job, hustling in something you’re passionate about afterwards so you can have the option to retire, work, or swim with the dolphins.
Yet at the same time, not losing sight of the bigger picture – your health, your family, your relationships and most of all your time.
You drive to and from your day-job, but you also Uber on the weekends so you have some spending money to take your wife out to a nice restaurant for your regular Friday date night.
There’s really no right or wrong path to be on, everyone’s priorities, goals and considerations are different.
Because to paraphrase an eccentric genius.
It’s all relative.
Just like how a 40 minute drive can turn into almost 2 hours – it’s not how long we are stuck in traffic that matters, it’s what we do with the time we have to help the path we’re on.
Which path are you on?
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P.S The real irony is that us young folk have this dream of “retiring early”, but ask anyone who has retired “early” and they’ll quickly tell you they miss being at work. Why do billionaires still work? Because they love what they do.
No matter which path we choose, at least most of us have a choice. The less fortunate people living out of more economically tougher environment would have no choice but to do the hard grind.
The Frugal Samurai
Well said – most of us don’t realise how lucky we are until we head to foreign shores, the term “hard day at work” has varying levels of meanings depending on where you are in the world…
wow sooo much to reply to.
as a person who recently travelled to phillippines, hong kong, china and korea, heres my take:
1. traffic – sydney traffic is AMAZING. Sydney in general is AMAZING. yes the infrastructure is inadequate, and it’s classifed as a “country side” city in Asia, but 50 min drive to work in peak traffic is NOTHING compared to traffic in those Asian countries (Phillippines the worst, 10 minutes = 1km)
2. 100% agree with the bystander. We are sooooo lucky we have CHOICE… whilst most ppl in asia work 10-12 hours a day, earn around 30-40k AUD a year… until they die. THen theres the even more unfortunate kids in Africa and South America I won’t even go into those. Moral of the story: make the MOST out of ur life… chase your DREAMS as opposed to worry about how many likes u can get on Instagram through better filters.
3. hey im on avant grande… need to switch to FIRE A S A P before i become jermaine pennant (currently jermaine issako… need to be JJ Okocha)
The Frugal Samurai
Thank you for your unique insights a la globetrotter (pronounced “glow-tro-ter” oui oui)
1) that is a fair call, I guess most of us take it for granted that 50 minute drive anywhere is a long place, Asian traffic is another thing altogether though – walking is by far the most optimal form of transportation methinks…
2) wow – very true, us first worlders really have it good and it takes travelling to really appreciate what you have when you come back home, clean water, working electricity – you’re SO right
3) given you have travelled to so many countries “recently”, I’m assuming you’re either a) Jermaine O’Neal – aka tier 1 gun b) Jermaine Pennant – tier 1 journeyman or c) Jermaine Jenas – tier 1 baggage
Great breakdown of 4 potential financial paths an individual faces. I think if someone is only focused on the end goal of early retirement it is easy to fall into the Hard Path trap. By only focusing on money you lose out on a lot of the other things that make life worthwhile. Plus you are never guaranteed the future. My dad (a physician) would work hard and say that one day he will get to reap the rewards by traveling more, etc. Unfortunately he died at the age of 50 (pancreatic cancer) and never got to enjoy the golden years he worked so hard towards. Have to stop and smell the roses otherwise one day you will be sitting on a pile of cash with no loved ones to speak of.
The Frugal Samurai
Totally agree with you, a lot of times we lose sight of the big picture in life because we are focused on our narrow-minded dreams and goals, there’s no right or wrong way to live life but at the end of the day, you need to be able to look in the mirror and say that you’ve lived a life without regrets.
I’m very sorry to hear about your Dad – I sincerely hope that in the end, you and your family were able to receive and give closure to him, my own father experienced something similar with his Dad last year. Just goes to show that you can never take life for granted – that (in my opinion) a well-balanced life is a life well lived.