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I enjoy perusing the web and reading blog posts, videos, and articles that catch my eye.
Some of the great posts I have come across I share with my readers through my Grand Rounds series.
Sometimes a particular passage in an article or segment of video is thought provoking and I thought I could highlight/elaborate on it in a dedicated post.
The inspiration for this post came from an article from Financial Samurai where he discussed an unexpected loss of a friend whom he later found out was an award-winning filmmaker/cinematographer.
What especially caught my eye in this particular article was that this filmmaker just so happened to produce a short film chronicling the life of an individual who was affectionately referred to as “Slomo” by all those around him.
To the casual observer, Slomo looked like a beach bum or hobo, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Before I give away the spoiler, I give you the opportunity to watch this 16 min film first:
The great escape.
In astrophysics there is a term called “Escape Velocity” which in essence refers to the speed an individual/object needs to be traveling to escape the gravitational force of Earth (around 25,000 mph).
I honestly think that most FIRE aficionados follow the same principle when they are trying to escape from a W2 job.
Replace velocity with money and the analogy is complete.
In order to achieve “financial escape velocity” we work as hard as we can to accumulate as much as we can in as short a time as possible.
I am guilty of this practice and because of it I may have sacrificed the best years of my life in order to achieve it.
But, as Slomo has demonstrated, there is an alternative way.
Rather than speed things up on the hamster wheel, he chose to slow things down and, in the process, reclaimed his life.
For those who have not watched the above short film, Slomo is a physician, certified in Neurology and Psychiatry, who was caught up in the rat race of medicine like most of us are now.
Rather than run even faster on the hamster wheel of medicine he found himself in, he decided to slow down and do the things that brought him more joy.
By eliminating the trappings most of us associate with success (mansion, expensive foreign car, etc) and distilling his life to things that elevated his happiness, Slomo underwent an amazing transformation from self described “asshole” to one whose body and mind are now in harmony
Breaking psychological barriers.
The fact that Slomo was a physician made this story all the more remarkable for me.
Even if most of us are unhappy as physicians, very few of us are brave enough to exit medicine completely before a more traditional time frame.
I truly feel an element of sunk cost fallacy is at play.
Physicians have dedicated a considerable amount of time and money during the training process.
Having so much invested in an MD degree makes it all the more difficult to turn away from it, even if it is not bringing the joy we originally thought it would.
It really takes a massive amount of courage to turn your back on medicine and the familiarity that comes with it to swim in uncharted waters.
Most of us identify ourselves, like it or not, by our occupation.
To give that occupational identity up, even if we know it will bring more happiness, is tough to do.
Factor in the potential social stigma, especially from close friends and family, of quitting medicine early to become a beach bum, and most of us would tend to stay in place and accept the lot we are cast in.
What can we learn from Slomo?
I think the biggest takeaway I took from the documentary was that time is finite and you really need to start concentrating on doing things that make you happy and cut out the things that don’t.
Now will I follow in the footsteps of Slomo?
No, I do not think I can get to his level of going through life in such slow motion.
But I don’t have to.
I always believe moderation is the key to happiness and success.
Instead of trying to achieve escape velocity by running on the hamster wheel faster or taking the extreme opposite approach of Slomo and discarding all things materialistic, I think I would be happiest with a compromise of these two competing philosophies.
I have already started slowing down in more ways than one and the effects have been remarkable for my psyche.
What about you?
What makes you the happiest and what would you give up to achieve it?
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Even a steadfast DIY’er can sometimes gain benefit from the occasional professional input.
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