My favourite movie of all time, and the one that helped me start thinking about how I should and could live life on my terms, is The Matrix.
It's not because I thought I could kung fu fight my way through life, but it was the numerous messages throughout the movie that made me question steps in life that we just take for granted as being "normal":
- More school (college/university)
- Good job
- Saving for retirement
- Nursing home
...I'm sure you could add a few to the list yourself.
This predefined path always bothered me and what bothered me even more was that deviating from it made me, and those around me, uncomfortable in some strange way. Why is that?
Why is that?
My gut was telling me there was something wrong with this way of thinking, but I could never quite put my finger on it. So, I obsessed over the movie's messages repeatedly that first year, and a number of the philosophical questions never left my thinking. My "deviant" behaviour started with weird and wild sports and activities. They were a way to distract me from the every day but it just wasn't enough. I still wanted more than what the beaten path was offering.
I chose the red pill.
In a way, the movie was my "red pill". The messages the Wachowski brothers stitched throughout helped me wake up and understand that I had a choice in every step in life and that I had to start thinking about what I wanted and how to go about getting it. I started seeing the world differently.
Why do I need to:
- Work for 45 years?
- Choose a career and never look at doing anything else?
- Work a stressful job, shackled with policies and regulations?
- Buy so much stuff?
- Seek convenience at every turn?
- Marry the perfect man by society's standards?
- Have children?
- ...be predictable?
It took me a number of years to follow what my gut was telling me but, over time, I learned to see the rules for what they were, a societal construct created by ordinary men and that these "rules of engagement" were merely steps that suited society, not the individual.
What really blows my mind the more I read about it is that these rules never last for very long. Our current iteration is only a century old. These rules keep changing to suit the needs of those at the helm...so why do we passively let it be? Because, uncomfortable as it may be, it's safer that way. I've started to turn the rules upside down, and it feels great.
Follow the white rabbit...
What's helping me keep breaking the rules this is that I've finally found my tribe. I've found others wanting to live life on their terms and many are wildly successful at it:
The fabulous PF/FI/RE community!
We are a movement of game changers. Life designers of sorts. We don't have everything in common, but we do share one thing: self-determination. It exhibits itself in a number of forms within our community:
- Debt aversion
- High savings rate
- Self-employment (aka "bossitis")
- Experience "junkiness"
- Unconventional housing choices
- Global exploration
- Continuous learning
- Early retirement
- Financial independence
- Serial entrepreneurship
Do you recognize a part of yourself in this list? Have you been doing or itching to do something more? No matter what, your gut is always right.
Who knows how far the rabbit hole goes....
If the above resonates with you and you want to explore the themes further, you might also like the following resources as a starting point:
The two Matrix references above suggest dozens of other sources to explore, such as the works of Lewis Carroll (far right). Therefore, I have not offered an exhaustive list.
Fight Club (1999)
American Beauty (1999)
If you have other movie suggestions that explore similar themes, please share them in the comments below.
UPDATE: I just posted this article this morning and J$ at RockStarFinance.com posted this video by Cody McKibben at thrillingheroics.com/more today as well and I just have to share. Many of the themes above are covered within the video. It is truly mesmerizing. Beautifully done. Caution: Please be aware that there is some colourful language.
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