Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Experience and Freedom - Why Ask For Anything More?

My reason for moving to Saudi Arabia was mainly to pay off my student loans and credit card.  Paying for undergrad and grad school is an expensive venture.  And my loan payments were eating up a ton of my disposable income.  Okay, let's be honest.  They were eating up all of my disposable income, hence my credit card bill.  So, the thought of becoming debt free and using all the money I typically set aside for loan payments to buy the things I've always wanted was extremely appealing to me.  Now that I'm here in Saudi Arabia I'm actually paying off my loans.  It is an awesome experience.  There's nothing quite like the feeling of slapping a solid chunk of money on a loan, reducing it by 1/4 of what it was at one fell swoop.  But there's a realization that I'm coming to about the possibilities I will have for my life when I'm debt free.  Through discussions with my friends whom experience a debt free life themselves, as well as things I've been reading via recommendations from these friends, I'm recognizing that my life isn't going to gain a lot of abundance simply because I can buy more things.  There's more to life than "things."

I'm typically not a materialistic person.  I'm not necessarily a collector of "things" and certainly not someone who goes out looking for the best gadget or the newest design.  Geezus, now that I think of it, before moving to Riyadh I went approximately two years without buying new clothes (not counting the new bike shorts, wool t-shirts, and snowboarding pants that were a necessity for the sports I love).  Outside of buying paintings from my fav artist and friend, Ting Yuen, (I love surrounding myself in beauty), the things I bought were always required for something I loved to do.  I spend money on the activities I love that give me the experiences that I crave.  Why I got it in my head that more money meant I would buy more things is beyond me.

It's not things that I'm going to get out of being debt free.  And it's not even having money in the bank to buy stuff that I need in order to do the things I love; although that is something I'm looking forward to doing.  Being debt free is going to give me something more.  It's going to give me freedom.  As many of my friends and family know, I am not the type of person who can commit.  I've soul searched many-a-day-and-night and still can't comprehend the idea of getting married.  Children, not a chance (and believe me, I've thought long and hard about this one).  When someone invites me to a party that's five days away, I only say, "maybe" or, "I'll see how I feel."  I am well aware of the fact that change is the only constant in life.  I embrace change.  I love it, in fact.  I love flowing with change and seeing where it takes me.  I've never failed to be in love with the life that change brings to me, no matter how difficult the transition period may be.  So, committing to someone or something doesn't make a lot of sense to me.  Committing, to me, just means I'm putting myself into a position to resist change when it comes along.

When it comes to debt, I'm beginning to see it as a commitment.  It's a commitment to being required to do some sort of job in order to pay it off.  When the debt load is high, it's a great situation for making me feel handcuffed to a particular job that may pay well, but isn't necessarily what I love to do.  Or maybe it's a job that I loved at one time, but through the inevitable changeability of life, I developed new desires for new experiences in my career.  Or maybe it's a job that I still love, but I want to reduce my workload or modify the way I do my job.  Debt isn't very good at making it easy to take the risks that many life transitions require.  When opportunities arise and my heart's desire and my intuition start to guide me to new and wonderful life adventures I want the freedom to be able to do so.  Being debt free will allow this to happen.

Ah, but I must get back to that extra money that I will have in my pocket when I finish up here in KSA.  Because, with freedom from debt, I will be able to pay for some cool things if I so desire.  I LOVE being outdoors and physically active, seeing new countryside where I can do my favourite activities, and doing all this with friends who love the same things.  Having extra money available will allow me to purchase whatever it is that I require to experience the life that I love and give me more opportunities to share these experiences with friends (without the post-purchase-depression that I used to experience because, let's face it, I still did these things in the past... I just did it while adding more to my debt-load with my handy-dandy credit card).  Yes, the items that I purchase will often be expensive (my dream mountain bike is $7,500), and the places I go to have these experiences can be pricey too (hitting up Sunpeaks, Silver Star, and Whistler bike parks are not cheap ventures).  But what buying these things does for me is create the experiences that bring the feeling of physical and spiritual fulfillment and the feeling of true love that being around friends and like minded people bring into my life.

That's what is important, isn't it?  Feeling the love of others and being truly and honestly fulfilled by life in general.  I've had an inkling about this for a while now, but it really hit home when I read this article "How to Buy Happiness".  Essentially it says much of what I've been saying here, but backs it up with research.  Oh how I love when science and philosophy combine, and in such a beautiful way.  A talk on TED that I watched recently by Adam Baker called "Sell Your Crap. Pay Your Debt. Do What You Love." backed up my thoughts as well.  Almost to an exact degree actually.  Nothing quite like having your philosophical inklings being validated by someone who has already been there. (/high five to me!)

Yes, life is going to be good when I get back to the world that I love.  In the meantime, however, I've got to do some hard work.  Life is not so easy here in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  I'll get into that more in an upcoming blog entry.  I have had a hard time transitioning to the idea of working in a place that can be so hard on the soul; especially when I had it so good back home in Canada.  Luckily, my friend Mark (or maybe it was his girlfriend, Krista) posted a quote on Facebook about a month ago that really hit home with me.  I can't remember the exact quote, but it basically said that in order to reap, you must sow.  Simple and to the point and something I already knew, but somehow forgot.  So, this is my time to sow.  I've been here for five months and, I will quickly admit, the number of hard times have been evened out with good times thanks to my Riyadh friends.  Knowing that I have a life of freedom and grand experiences ahead of me will make all of the sowing I do here in Riyadh well worth it.

In Joy,

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