Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Guarantees

This past weekend, I purchased a lot of airline tickets. It just so happened that I found good prices for all the places I need, err, want to go over the next six months. After dropping that amount of money in a matter of minutes, I was feeling a little guilty. A little, uhhh, financially irresponsible.

I reasoned that the savings was something that a) I worked very hard for and b) would replenish soon with a tax return and by minding my budget. Heh, well, mostly minding it anyway. Still, I wasn't feeling great. I mean, what kind of person goes and schedules not one, not two, but THREE coastal/beach vacations within the first six months of the year? Obviously, this kind of person.

After giving my chunk of change to the airline industry, I wrestled for the remainder of the weekend back and forth over what I’d done. No, I couldn’t take it back but that doesn’t mean I could allow myself to feel completely good about it. This is what you save for. But the money could go somewhere else. You do share your money. And you share your time. You’re young, you need to have fun. You’re young, you need to plan. Don't worry, you have travel insurance. And you have a retirement account, several. And mutual funds, don’t forget the mutual funds! But maybe you could have helped someone else out. This is what it’s like to live in my head.

Then, I came into work Tuesday and opened an email that read something like this:

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of one of our fellow employees. Mary Jones died Saturday at her home. Mary worked for our organization for over twenty-five years and had recently retired on November 30, 2006. Funeral service and donation information to follow as soon as it becomes available.

Over twenty-five years. Retired six weeks. She wasn’t sick. Children, grandchildren. Travel plans with her husband. Plans to sit back and really enjoy life. I heard all this from other employees, employees closer to Mary than I. And now, there was nothing. She’s gone, there are no plans.

I’m often unsure of what there is to learn from death. I struggle so much with making any sense of it at all. Faith and logic only go so far, when someone’s six weeks into retirement, “the best time of life,” and it’s all gone in an instant. How can you make sense of that, sense of no guarantees? Is there anything to learn?

I have a hard time really knowing the answer to those questions. I probably always will. But little by little, and each unfortunate time I have to be reminded, I think I might know a little more. I might be a little closer to the answer. And yesterday, when I sat back down at my desk and thought about the dramatic depletion of my money over the past weekend, I didn’t feel that guilt anymore.

While I know that saving and planning for my future is important and a priority, it’s not the only priority. We also have to plan for right now. We have to allow ourselves to live right now and take advantage of those opportunities that may deplete our bank account, but will also fill our lives. Fill our souls, even, if we let it. That, I think, might be the only guarantee there really is.

12 comments:

Kurt said...

Thanks for stopping by my Blog!

There are no guarantees on anything so as long as you are not financing your future I think you made the right choice. Besides the beach is a real cool place to be!

Danielle said...

Well said. I sometimes get guilt over something I've bought, spending I've done and what not, but you have to live now. Even if you do retire and have a long retirement, who's to say that at retirement age, you are going to have the energy and ability to travel that you did when you were younger? I know my grandmother's could not climb the steps of the Duemo (sp) in Florence...and one day maybe I won't, so I'm glad I did it when I still could. Enjoy life, just not to super excess. Wish I was going with you on even just one of those beach vacations...I need to see the beach!

e.b. said...

Nice post - captures how I feel with a solid reality reminder of what to experience in life. Of course sometimes I use that ratinole too much....

Runner Girl FL said...

Sorta puts the live life while you can theory in perspective doesn't it.

I think I will make plans to do something fun with FireGuy right now.

justacoolcat said...

Not to mention those that can afford to travel are almost obligated to do so; the world relies on the money we spend when abroad.

Sizzle said...

why put off travel? i say it is well worth the money and the adventure will live with you a lifetime!

Nicole said...

OMG that sounds awesome - 3 vacations! You deserve it.

Nicole said...

Oops. I hit publish too quick.

My mom died a year and half ago because of cancer. She never made it to retirement even though she saved a bundle - she and my dad had these glorious plans to travel and she never made it. So, I say seize the day because you never know what tomorrow brings. Enjoy yourself and life!

Backofpack said...

I've got one of those stories too - my aunt died of cancer a month after my uncle retired. They had been planning to travel all over Europe.

Eric and I talk about that frequently, and about living in the now (while still preparing for the future). I think it applies to children as well - we spend their childhoods preparing them to be adults - moving right into the work world and starting to save for retirement. Why not let them be kids? This IS their life as well, and it is just as important as their adult life. There are some kids won't make it to adulthood - I'd hate to think that the short time they had was spent getting ready for something that never came. Let them revel in childhood, in life. Yes, we still have to teach them and prepare them, but it shouldn't be all that all the time.

Malnurtured Snay said...

I'm always financially irresponsible. I keep telling myself I'm going to stop spending, and then I see a new IKEA bookcase, and I fall in love with it ...

skinnylittleblonde said...

Profound post...Go & enjoy the coast. Enjoy it often! Youre right, planning for the future is good...buut our life is just a bunch of moments put together. We must make the most of each one!

john wilson said...
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