Believe it or not, I don’t actually keep up with much from the US anymore.
News, politics, etc. It’s mostly out the window for me, which is a relief. My quality of life is much higher without the noise.
I have a best friend in the US, though, so I still have a general idea of some of the things going on over there. And I obviously keep up with the stock market for purposes of my writing.
Other than that, I’m blissfully ignorant of what’s going on in the States.
But I did want to watch the Super Bowl this year. I guess I still enjoy watching high-level football, especially when big stakes are on the line.
However, due to the 12-hour time difference, watching it live would have required me to get up at 6:00 a.m. That was never, ever going to happen. I hated getting up that early even when I was paid to – which is one reason I quit my job almost five years ago.
Well, I was able to find what I call a “superedit” of the Super Bowl by the NFL’s own YouTube channel that basically cut out all the crap – commercials, downtime, timeouts, etc.
It was about 13 minutes of full-on action.
And it was great. I don’t know if I could ever again watch a regular game in real-time.
However, watching the game like this made me realize something.
A Super Bowl game is typically around four hours long. And here it’s being condensed down into just 13 minutes.
Something that’s a worldwide phenomenon – a spectacle of sport – is 95% fluff!
If a game that’s meant to be packed with action (that people pay eye-watering amounts of money to attend and see in person) is only 5% “the goods”, that got me thinking about our lives in general.
I started to wonder how much of our free time is fluff, and how much of it involves worthwhile and memorable moments worth recording and keeping.
I also started to wonder…
What would it look like if someone “superedited” our lives?
Life Is Shorter Than You Think
First, I’m not even talking about our entire lifespans.
The vast majority of our time here on Earth is spent on repetitive tasks that are more or less necessary to our modern-day concept of survival.
I’ve come across some interesting infographics, articles, and videos over the years that attempt to quantify just how short life really is in terms of how much free time you have to yourself.
So you start with an average lifespan, then you start eliminating from that lifespan the sum of the years spent doing a number of tasks that are inherently part of most people’s lives.
You add up the years spent sleeping, grooming yourself, using the restroom, going to school, working, commuting, cleaning, taking care of your home, cooking, etc. They’re all part of the human condition as we currently know it, but there is often not a lot of “life” in this stuff.
One such video pegged it down to about 12 years of actual life left over after getting most of the non-negotiable stuff out of the way.
Unfortunately, even those remaining years are largely squandered by most people (by watching TV, texting, etc.).
Okay. Makes sense. You can quibble with the numbers here and there. But the conclusion is pretty clear.
The years of real, actual “life” an average person has to themselves with which to completely allocate as they please is probably around 10-15 years.
But it gets worse.
As I’ve pointed out before, a year isn’t a year. To have the majority of those “free years” bunched up toward the beginning and end of your life, when you’re nowhere close to your physical or mental peak, greatly diminishes the value of that time.
For example, a free year of life at 30 is most certainly not the same as a free year of your life at 70, yet it’s precisely when you’re much older and closer to death that you tend to have the most available time.
The other bunching of free time occurs in our formative childhood years, which is another period in which we’re nowhere near our peak. I can’t even remember the first five or so years of my life, which totally sucks.
It’s an unfortunate mismatch.
With that in mind, I want to take this concept a bit further today by contemplating what a “superedit” would look like with our actual free years.
Superedit Your Life
Let’s work with those 12 years for a moment.
We’ll assume that we all have approximately 12 years with which to do as we please.
That might, at first, sound depressing. After all, a dozen years is not a very long period of time. I can remember back to 12 years ago, right now. I feel like it passed by very quickly.
But I think it can get even more distressing when you think about what exactly you’re doing with all of those 12 years.
If an inherently intense sport’s biggest game of the year is 95% fluff, I don’t know if the odds are real great that an average person’s 12 years of free life are going to fare any better. It’s especially likely that the remaining years don’t have a lot going on considering the way those free years are bunched up in the beginning and end of our lives.
So if you “superedit” those 12 years down into something that you, I, and a good number of people would want to sit down and watch – editing out the downtime, the things you don’t want anyone to see, and all of the waste – you might be left with just seven months of “the goods”.
This isn’t meant to depress you.
It’s meant to motivate you.
I’m not saying our lives should be constantly action-packed. I’m not saying that there isn’t a ton of value in the little moments in life.
What I’m really saying here is the total opposite of that.
I’m saying that we should all aim to have as many of those “free years” as possible – while we’re still young, healthy, and able enough to enjoy them and make the most of them in a bespoke way.
And that’s where FIRE comes into play. This is what my writing for the past eight years has been all about.
I can tell you right now, a “superedit” of my pre-FIRE life would have been terrible. And that was even during a very young, healthy, and able period of my life!
There would have been almost no footage to work with. I had nothing going on. My life was a mess. I had no ability to spend my free time how I wished, in large part because I had so little of it to begin with. I didn’t own my time because I didn’t control my life. What little free time I had was used to decompress and relax. It was my version of a “timeout”.
But my post-FIRE life is a totally different story.
2018 was my first full year of living abroad, FIRE, in my 30s.
I’m a young, relatively wealthy and healthy guy, having the time of my life in Thailand.
Passive dividend income from my FIRE Fund covers my essential expenses. I have no job. I’m able to spend almost all of my time however I wish.
I can spend time with my significant other, at the coffee shop, with mates, at the gym, exploring the city, etc. It’s a dream. More specifically, it’s my dream.
This is all because I have enough free time on my hands to allocate it in a way that best suits me. This is all due to FIRE. I owe all of this to the free life that FIRE has allowed me to have. It’s an opportunity that I take very seriously.
Now, let me be clear. Not every minute involves a TD pass. Many moments are nuanced in how I go about enjoying them. Frankly, even I don’t love every minute of every day. I still have challenges. There’s downtime in my life. Not all of the seconds I have and spend would make the final cut of a “superedit”.
But I can tell you that I have far, far, far more footage to work with in my post-FIRE life than I ever had in my pre-FIRE life. That’s for sure. And I’ve only been FIRE for a fraction of my entire lifespan thus far!
Get busy living or get busy dying.
-Andy Dufresne, Shawshank Redemption
We’re all busy dying. But not many of us are busy living.
However, it’s possible to change that.
Be cognizant of how short life really is. Start thinking of what kind of “superedit” of your life you’d like to see. Work toward FIRE, which is possible to achieve in just five years. Then get busy living and creating a life worth watching!
What do you think? What would a “superedit” of your life look like? Are you happy with how much free time you have and how you spend it? Would FIRE give you an opportunity to better allocate your time?
Thanks for reading.
Image courtesy of: vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
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