Jun 172017
 

“They’re thinking of selling their Astove 31,” a friend tells me.

“What’s the plan?” I reply.

“Thinking to maybe one day head offshore” he muses.

“What’s wrong with the Astove?” I wonder.

Same thing holds true for dual-purpose motorcycles. If you don’t have at least 1000cc underneath you then you can’t possibly tour the remote places of the planet.

4×4? Same thing! Have to get all the gear before you can think of going outside the parking lot.

In my opinion, bigger isn’t always better or even necessary.

That’s why I’m happy with my 30’Miura [and we will cruise offshore one day], my tiny X-300 [yes we will adventure far and wide and on the dirt] and my aging Isuzu 4×4 [perhaps we might even head off-road one day].

The irony though; I cannot possibly have enough time in my current life to use all these properly. Even by going small I’ve crossed some paradoxical line.

Perhaps going nothing at all would have been better under the current circumstances?.

Certainly – bigger is not always better. Sometimes though even smaller isn’t better. Sometimes total abstinence is the only logical path.

Why is that so hard?

Feb 132016
 

I’ll admit to taking some strain being without my girls this last few weeks. It’s plain-and-simple loneliness.

One would think it best to get stuck into a project or something but my motivation levels have been rock-bottom.

As usual, when I feel this way, cabin fever has me pacing the shopping malls. I already know I’ ll find nothing of value to me there and yet I do it anyway.

At every window there is media depicting people living the good life. Happy, smiling, fit and tanned specimens all screaming how you too can have this good life….but you ‘ll need this action camera, this outfit, this expensive piece of tech gear to do so.

It’s all marketing BS.

You don’t buy the stuff to make you a surfer, a sailor, a runner. No. You get out there and you just surf/sail/run. You do the activity, you don’t accessorise. You’re a runner by virtue of the fact that you run, not because you wear some ridiculously expensive gadget.

Writers write. Sailors sail. Runners run.

Stop theorising about who you are and what you want,

Do it.

Jun 262014
 

Yesterday was one of those days, a blue Monday in the middle of the week. One of those days where everything seems set against you and your purpose.

It’s interesting that these kind of days always seem more likely when one isn’t quite so happy with the way things are.

Coming off a bit of a grumpy day after closing down the MX-5 opportunity disaster [and to be honest, berating myself a little for my weakness and inconsistencies] yesterday just flowed on from there.

The factory in China is the bane of my existence at the moment. They debate every little request, usually with ‘No’. It’s super-frustrating trying to meet a customer project specification with a crowd like that who doesn’t even address the project specification but just forge ahead with their standard concept.

Anyhow, that’s par for the course as a PM, so no real complaints other than I’m tired and want to try something different down in Glencairn. Biggest challenge is, and remains, the wonderful back-office staff and unfathomable procedures, processes, forms and ‘rules’. On top of all the other frustrations, when someone cannot give me a good reason or cannot explain what a piece of data required is for other than ‘That’s the form, that’s what is required, I don’t no why” then I find it hard not to show my frustration.

The point of all this whining ?

I’ll tell you why. Because I care! I care to be seen as a competent professional. That’s what I do and to a certain extent, it reflects on my abilities when I cannot focus the team all in the same direction. I don’t buy into the CMA management approach, a woolly masses “as long as it’s someone else’s fault” approach. I’m invested in the job while I’m here and take it’s success seriously [probably too seriously if I’m honest with myself]

I suppose the other thing that grates, a lifelong ‘wound‘ that gets prodded with regularity, is the fact that no-one listens. I hate that, especially when their stance has no logic behind it [and let’s be honest, “because it’s always been done this way” is just plain stupid, like a parent telling their child ‘because I told you so‘].

After a stint away from this specific corporate, I certainly was under no illusions that things would be different in the back-office on my return. What I do find strange in myself is that the frustration levels seem similar to those when I left. This is surprising. The role I left behind, a middle management position, had a direct requirement to address the engineering and project management efficiencies and as a result it was difficult to take the ‘not listening‘ to heart. Returning as a bottom-feeder, there is no such requirement, no reason for me to feel it my responsibility to identify and correct broken and inefficient processes. And yet, there it is, the same feeling of frustration?

Life is too short for this. I’ve made my choices and I’m satisfied with where my career job is and will be. It’s not always like this and as life progresses, this kind of knee-jerk response becomes less and less frequent, an aberration in what is normally a fairly relaxed, stress free life. The challenge is to withstand the constant barrage of this for another 5-10 years and then, let’s be honest, the new life will have different challenges.

As in all things, living on the edge is fine in short bursts, but when it’s done continuously, living with no buffer, no breathing space any small thing can turn into a major life-threatening crisis. The buffer in this case is a Cape Town break. The decision to not do the China trip is taken, no matter the consequences. Time to forge ahead and take a couple of days to recharge that buffer.

Jun 242014
 


mx5 rear

Damn it ! Will it never end? 2007 MX-5, 114000km, R122500. That sounds like a deal too good to miss?

My day-to-day life in the corporate is ultimately restrictive. I’m tired. Tired of 20d leave a year. Tired of the corporate drive at profit to the expense of all else. Tired of the ‘protecting-my-turf’ politics that need to be navigated each day. Tired of the people who cannot be open and honest because of their concern for the reprisals or limiting their ‘careers’.

I look at the sea-view desktop photo that is Glencairn. It calls to me, beckons me to a life that is simpler and less complicated. A life with less [different] responsibilities and challenges. I yearn for that different now.

The Ford wouldn’t start and run properly this evening. Belging black smoke – and this after we’ve just spent R9k on a water system repair. It’s not what I want anymore. Cars. Euuuugh !!

Yet, I’m continually tempted by cars. While I live this life, I struggle with that temptation.. My life needs to be redesigned and different so that I am free of that temptation.

I’ve been thinking what I might do once we relocate down to Glencairn?
– Sailing and mile-building voyages – but that means accommodation to the peculiarities that are people. At least the interested parties have a closer commonalilty with me.
– House renovations – flipping. Seems a good plan since that’s what S really enjoys. BUT we have budget inconsistencies !! This risks our freedom from debt in a big way!
– But, the big question is really “What are we to do with the proceeds of 253 sale?”
– Rentals are hard because they involve people. Flipping is easier because we buy, renovate and sell.
But there is always risk!!

What if the tenants trash 16 de Villiers? No matter. As long as we have the land we’re ok is my thought.

Am I stupid to give up the current perceived ‘salary security’ ?? I suppose the question is deeper than this. It’s more a question of why? Why are we working? Why are we saving? What is the point of ‘enough’? Am I really giving anything up? What if I can’t find happiness even once we’ve done the move? Am I not happy now? At least happier? I think I am. it’s not that I don’t still think of things, but overall I do think I’m coping better with all the grief of life. Am I happy? Yes, I think so, but I still want the change.

Right now I’d like to get in the car and take the pups for a quick walk outside, on the beach. At Glencairn I feel OK doing that. Here in Jhb I’m wary of the setting sun, the approaching darkness, the danger of Rhodes Park. So here, I don’t act on that impulse. In Glencairn I would actually act and load them up and head for the sand. That’s the big difference in my mind !! A big reason for what we’re contemplating and planning.

I feel my life sliding into inaction and indecisiveness because of the Chinese trip thing at the moment. If I don’t go and things turn pear then it’s going to reflect badly. But ES is apparently going (but doesn’t seem too speedy at applying for visa etc). As a result I’m delaying planning for Cape Town and feeling all the worse for it. I think today is d-day for a decision. Take a stand and roll with the punches.

I think I need to forge ahead with my plans to close over the trailer area and build a workshop there. While this was a relaxed weekend I do, to a certain degree, feel it wasted by inaction. Sure I spent the time reading rather than TV but still would have liked to potter on projects for the boat a bit more.

So here I derail the plan again by driving the MX-5 and negotiating R122500, on-the-road purchase price. I haven’t signed anything and paid no cash, but it’s as close as it ever can get without being done. I hear the hesitance in Sandy’s voice and understand fully where it comes from. I feel it myself. What do I really want? R122500 is an estimated 6mths of total freedom. It pushes the bond back over the million mark, setting us seriously back on that front.

To re-read something I recently read over at AffordAnything.com:People have a funny view of money. They spend lavishly on socially-acceptable priorities like homes, cars and education, but they rob their real dreams to pay for that. Seeing the way that people reacted to my 2-year round-the-world trip drove this point home, so I decided to dedicate my life to teaching one very simple but powerful message: Cut ruthlessly on the things you don’t care about. Spend lavishly on the things you love. Ignore conventional wisdom.”

I repeat: “HOW SERIOUS AM I ABOUT THE DREAM?”

I don’t visit strip clubs and whore-houses hoping to resist the temptation. I stay out totally because I am totally committed to the marriage and the person. But yet, with the Glencairn dream, here I am, visiting the automotive version of the “whore-house strip joint” and somehow hoping that I’m strong enough to resist. Can you not see the patently obvious, the ludicrous in this? This has nothing to with “we’ll have to buy a car for Caz anyway and at least I can enjoy the Maxda for a year until then and then trade it” but has everything to do with me caving to emotional whims that will have a very real impact on the date our dream comes to fruition. It may even derail the dream totally or it might not kill the dream at all. But it certainly won’t do the dream any positive good – and that’s the indisputable fact !

I’ve battled enough with this car thing my whole working life to know that the buzz of the ‘new’ MX-5 will fast fade and we’ll be back to square ‘1’. Well, not all the way back to square one, let’s be honest, but certainly not as close to the goal as we could be. As soon as I need to replace that 17″ run-flat at R8k, the novelty is going to wear off pretty quickly.

Sure, one can argue the “save some, live some philosophy” but ultimately the dream is not to have a cool car. The dream is to only have a cool car if the DREAM is realised. and that means getting our butt’s settled down in Glencairn before anything stupid happens.

S is a sweetie. She’s supportive and understanding. Gently doesn’t agree and refocuses me on the common goal, but will accept my wobbly if it turns into action. I haven’t met many men with that level of support and trust fro their better half. She’s right. The 1-bar mark has been breached and that is huge. We don’t want to rise above that again, not for consumer purchases. We can always buy the MX-5 when we’re settled in our beach life. Yip. True. But the chances of it happening then are slim, because the salary is not going to be there. Slim to none. Can I live with that? It’s all about choices.

You can have anything you want! You just can’t have everything you want!

 

May 132014
 

Yesterday I gave the ‘car-free’ life a good go but I must admit, I honestly don’t know if living without a car here is desirable.

Sure, I’ll agree, it’s doable, but is it desirable?

Yesterday was a wet, wet day on the Peninsular and the walk to Fish Hoek from Glencairn seemed to take forever. My mission – buy some slime for the MTB wheels. Maybe I should have taken the bicycle. That would have been quicker.

What was knocked off in a 20 minute run earlier the same morning takes eons longer when you’re walking.

Sam’s reply: ‘It’s all in your head’ is true, but it’s still hard to think of the limited time here and to be using up half a day finding slime seems somehow wasteful.

In the end, instead of walking back, I caught the train. The late afternoon saw me exhausted. Maybe it will be different when I really have time?

Apr 172014
 

It’s been excellent catching up with old friends and colleagues since starting the new gig. Great that, in spite of the Crusty Introvert Me, there has been an overwhelming “Welcome! Good to Have you back“. [Sort of cements the no-Woolley Masses approach to life doesn’t it?]

It’s hard to hide where my head is at with the ER-Dream [firstly I’m totally and passionately committed and secondly I’m putting myself out there to give myself some form of ‘public accountability’ to strengthen my resolve and ability to carry through with this] and so this has come up in several of the discussions quite easily and naturally because the obvious question is “Why are you back?

The answer is easy. “Because the stash needs to grow a little bigger“. But it always leads to [perhaps only internal and unvoiced] thoughts such as “Life is so expensive and out of control there will never be enough so why even try” or “What’s the point? I need more than I can ever hope to stash away so I might as well not stash anything” or “There’s no point in planning because nothing ever works out as planned” etc.

It’s abundantly obvious the grip this modern consumer lifestyle has on us all. I’m no exception. I like my luxuries and toys and continually strive to balance saving for tomorrow with enjoying my material wealth today. Just like the rest of the flock. I’ve been there myself, buying the BMW as a “reward” for the hard work and long hours, so I’d be a little hypocritical in judging anyone too harshly for doing the same. But, the bottom line is that this “spoiling” yourself today has very real consequences and impacts your ability to step off in the future should you want to. No doubts in my mind that had I taken my brother’s unsolicited but well-intended advice to heart back in my early twenties and ploughed every cent I ever spent on cars into building the stash, then my ER-Date would probably already have happened.

This is not about regrets or unhappiness at life in the present. It’s just fact. The past cannot be changed and the future is always there, in the future. Life is good today and the ER-Dream is a powerful and common goal for me and S, something we earnestly want and are willing to sacrifice for. Is there a little bit of regret about past decisions? Perhaps ‘Yes’ if I’m totally honest. but certainly not misery and unhappiness. It’s more just a quiet acknowledgement of the impact of past actions on the present reality. And I think that important in steering the present toward the desired future. After all, those who repeat the ‘mistakes’ of the past are doomed to re-live the same-old same-old in the future. Will the future turn out exactly as we hope, dream and plan for? Can’t say. Will we be happy in that future? Definitely and with certainty because happiness is a conscious choice determined neither by wealth, nor poverty nor circumstance.

And that is what I find so sad in many of the people around me, this belief that there is no use in planning for the future, no use in stashing away R150 rather than blowing it on some piece of cheap Chinese plastic. The unconscious negativity that silently and unknowingly limits a person’s quality of life today and into the future is so obvious in the comment “But R5.8M in 50 years time is worth nothing so why bother”.

I know I probably come across as judgemental but that’s the last thing I want to be. It’s not my business to change others nor give unsolicited advice. But, it is my business to fully understand myself and what makes me tick. Rehashing and journalling my impressions and thoughts on these interactions with people allows me to explore and understand myself better. We are all where we are today because of our decisions and actions taken in the past. Our future is predominantly created by our habits and actions taken in the present. So, unless we understand our past and how we got to our present, there is no sound reason to believe that we will be any different in our future.

I’m no “New Agey, positive thinking solves all” kind of person. Sure, you need the right attitude. But positive thoughts sitting on the couch with your hand in the potato chip packet are just not going to cut it. Positive thought requires positive action and any kind of improvement or change means hard work, pushing through the barriers of discomfort, pain and uncertainty and staying in the game long enough to eventually win.

No, I don’t know with any certainty what the end score will be. What I do know is that we will step off this treadmill a good decade or so earlier than the working masses not because we’re any better than them but because we’re totally committed to the additional freedom it will bring and are willing to make the sacrifices needed today to make that future happen.

Nov 132013
 

Weird thought you say, considering I’m only 45 at present.

Not so weird I say. Not if you want to live life deliberately and consciously.

So, assuming I’m blessed with making it to 70, here’s what it will look like:

  • I’ll be sailing, running, biking and kayaking with Sands regularly.
  • We’ll be living with a view, running a little self-built Small House B&B for non-Woolly Masses folk
  • We’ll still have regular and meaningful contact with B and Caz.
  • I’ll be enjoying the finest red’s the Cape has to offer, in moderation of course.
  • Life will be simple but meaningful. No TV, no consumerism.
  • We’ll have a gas stove, cooking fresh snoek, fresh salads and good homemade fare.
  • We’ll drive a beach buggy, topless.
  • We’ll be building a “tiny house” cabin on the back of the property

There are a couple of “heros” I’ve found that are worth modelling [some aspects of their lives at least]:

Nothing happens without a plan. Good habits and good health are essential to this future vision in the present. The habits formed today are the surest ‘certainty’ [if indeed there is such a thing in life] of giving that future a chance to happen. You don’t move it by the time 70 rolls around you’ve probably lost it.