Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Where are you and where are you going?
classical_Liberal
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by classical_Liberal » Wed Nov 14, 2018 12:47 am

Glad to read things are feeling better!
suomalainen wrote:
Tue Nov 13, 2018 3:55 pm
And most recently, instead of "trying to be happy", I've focused more on "trying to be not unhappy".
This is an ever-important distinction I have also recently stumbled upon. I think humans are pretty horrible at predicting what will make us happy, but we are pretty good at knowing what is sucking-up our life presently.

Jason
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Wed Nov 14, 2018 5:02 am

black_son_of_gray wrote:
Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:27 pm
Kurt Vonnegut on his uncle Alex:


It's hard to simultaneously feel both [insert negative emotion] and gratitude.
I personally wouldn't be caught dead saying such stupid saccharine shit out loud but thanks for the important reminder.

black_son_of_gray
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by black_son_of_gray » Wed Nov 14, 2018 12:38 pm

My apologies, I'll take my stupid saccharine shit elsewhere.

Augustus
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Augustus » Wed Nov 14, 2018 11:03 pm

suomalainen wrote:
Tue Nov 13, 2018 3:55 pm
But then I lift my head out of that space and I look around and I think "But nothing is sucking right this very second." And I'm able to move on. That's new.
Yeah that's really important, I made the same discovery recently as well. Have you ever read Jon Kabat-Zinn? He teaches meditation at a hospital. He said one thing he often noticed was that these people who had horrible illnesses that were very painful often suffered MORE by their own hands, i.e. the misery they fixated on, how their lives were ruined, etc than from the illness itself. That once they stopped the mental agony, and moved on to other thoughts, and it was now just a physical pain, that they felt much better.

I've noticed I have a tendency to dwell on negative things, I have an annoying client right now for example, I was spending much more time having imaginary arguments in my head, or thinking through how annoying the guy was, than the sum total of all my interactions with the guy. Since that realization I've been doing the same thing, realizing that things are nice here and now, and not ruining the 95% good time by putting the 5% of actual annoyingness on replay in my head.

Anyways, Zinn's "Wherever you go, there you are" has been a bible of sorts for me. It's a bunch of short 1-3 page thought exercises that really help gain perspective. It also has zero woo, no spiritual stuff to muddy the waters, which I appreciate a lot, since anyone can read it, regardless of belief system.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Fri Nov 16, 2018 4:59 pm

It's funny, I think sometimes I even feared letting go of my dark thoughts. Like maybe there was some FOMO that if I let go of them, if I didn't continue trying to needle meaning out of them, that I would miss out on some great secret. I don't know if my wife ever said this to me, or perhaps if I was simply indicted by another part of my own mind, but I have some memory of someone saying to me that "I think you like being depressed and cynical; I think you WANT things to become and stay shitty; I think you NEED it." Perhaps I established it as a sort of foil against which I defined myself. "Everything sucks, and I'm such a special snowflake to be the ONLY ONE to see the truth that everything is bullshit."

Well, yes, everything IS bullshit, but that doesn't mean anything. You can still enjoy it; it can still be useful; you can still see meaning in it; you might even be able to conquer countries with it. The trick, I think, is to wink at it and enjoy it anyway.

@augustus, no I don't think I've read Jon Kabat-Zinn, but I have read about him, I think. It's been on my lazy to-read list, which gets attention only in fits and starts.

@bsog, you can keep your saccharine shit outta @jace's journal, but nothing, apparently, is out of bounds in this journal (having just re-skimmed through the flurry of marital theory posts from this summer).

Jason
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Sat Nov 17, 2018 6:05 am

Whenever I read or hear someone say "I hit rock bottom" I think, no. There's always more bottom. The universe is nothing but bottom. The question is how far you want to go and what you think you'll find there and why you are so insistent on plummeting its depths. As deep or as meaningful as it is to you, its still just your little expedition anyways. No one gives a shit and no one knows where you are in it. There's nothing verifiable that you can bring back that says you were even there. Well, unless you are one of those unfortunate ones who stared into the eyes of a dead crackwhore. But anyway, the question is what has it gotten you up to this point? Did it ever really change your position. Asking why you think a certain way is just as important as asking why you do a certain thing.

suomalainen
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November

Post by suomalainen » Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:11 pm

Mental
November was a tough month. I'm not sure if it was trying to adjust from my vacation or just a stressful month, but there were some dark mental days in that stretch. Nevertheless, I was able to step outside of myself for a bit and notice that the cloud hanging over me was a cloud that was held in place...by me. Releasing it let me notice that all was not shit in the world. I think some of this is letting my anxiety get out of control and not doing enough to mindfully bring my blood pressure, heart rate and breathing down on a regular basis when I get amped up from work or kids or stress or whatever.

Physical
Weight has not been coming off and I think I hit my daily peak again at ~243 pounds. Trying to be more mindful about my food intake so as to stop "eating my feelings". Food is fuel, not a tutti (binkie, pacifier, whatever).

Job
Busy. Also been in the process of interviewing for another job. We'll see how it goes.

Budget
Wife was just over budget at $5221, even though I think she thought she was well under budget at around $4000. We'll have to see where that disconnect is, but it largely doesn't matter. The point is that she is excited about our new arrangement and is actually paying attention to money. Also a plus is that we don't argue over money any more. Just the other day she made a comment about how great it is that she can leave the Christmas tree lights on overnight and I don't even complain about them or unplug them after she goes to bed. She also said something along the lines of wanting to see how this $5000/month works out over a year before agreeing to a smaller number even though she thinks she can do a smaller number. I dunno. The psychological/marital benefit far outweighs the monetary benefits, so I'm not pressing for a smaller number. I "pay" my wife $5000/month to keep all 5 of us alive and I don't have to care what she spends it on. Win win. We do have more soup than we used to, so, you know, tanstaafl/tinstaafl. TTM dividend/expense ratio edged up to just over 16%.

Reading
"You must find the most important words a man can say." Those words came to me from one who claimed to have seen the future.
"How is this possible," I asked in return, "have you been touched by the void?"
The reply was laughter. "No, sweet king, the past is the future and as each man has lived, so must you."
"So I can but repeat what has been done before?"
"In some things, yes. You will love; you will hurt; you will dream; and you will die. Each man's past is your future."
"Then what is the point," I asked, "if all has been seen and done?"
"The question," she replied, "is not whether you will love, hurt, dream and die - it is what you will love, why you will hurt, when you will dream and how you will die. This is your choice. You cannot pick the destination, only the path."
This started my journey, and this begins my writings. I cannot call this book a story, for it fails at its most fundamental to be a story. It is not one narrative, but many, and though it has a beginning, here on this page, my quest can never truly end. I wasn't seeking answers - I felt that I had those already, plenty, in multitude, from a thousand different sources. I wasn't seeking myself - this is a platitude that people have ascribed to me and I find the phrase lacks meaning. In truth, by leaving, I was seeking only one thing - a journey.

lightly edited from chapter 105 of Oathbringer, third book in the Stormlight series
This is from a book I'm listening to as I'm walking the halls at work to stretch my legs. Somehow the passage struck a chord with me, as I sometimes find the repetitiveness of life to be quite disheartening. It's easier to feel inspired when you are reaching for or building something new than when you are not, such as when you are just keeping the trains running. Of course, the building towards something new is a mirage, as you are never really building anything new, but simply reinventing a wheel that someone else has already built.* But in either case, whether building something new (to you) or maintaining the previously designed or constructed, such as a day-to-day life of one's choosing, one can view the thing one is doing as having a point, a destination, a goal and one can view oneself as putting one's energy into accomplishing that goal. Call this "the executive view".

Or one can view deliberate paths and goals as mental constructs-cum-barriers. Imagine you are standing in a field wanting to go from point A to point B. God looks on you from above. To you, from field-level, you take a few deliberate steps towards B, then course correct at regular intervals and take a few more steps and so-on, eventually reaching B. To you, you have moved deliberately from point A to point B, having selected a destination and the path to get there, deliberately avoiding certain detours while inadvertently stumbling into others, forcing mid-stream course corrections. In a sense, you're building a maze as you go, with walls put up to keep you from being distracted by things-not-related-to-getting-to-point-B. But to God, from above, the maze doesn't exist! The field is the entirety of possible human experience and the singular path from A to B that you took is but one of many possible paths. Without God's knowledge of your intention to reach point B, it looks like you've just been meandering! Call this "the non-self view".

To try to describe my emotional reaction to the passage above: it's almost like I saw that I am stuck in "the executive view" but the glimpse of being in "the non-self view" was freeing**. To go from thinking of myself as (i) a conscious being (deluded into) thinking it has (more) agency and control over its decisions (than it actually has) - one that is producing the movie from concept to script-writing to casting to filming/directing to (ii) a conscious being accepting the absurdity of its delusions and allowing the movie to happen as it will, more as audience member than producer. In other words - is life really a highly polished big-budget film where I am the hero? Or am I in the audience watching improv at the local comedy club? Or is it that life is the improv while we hustle and bustle about making it appear to ourselves like a full-fledged Hollywood production?

Whether one views life as absurd or not, I think the point of my little hallway revelation is that it needn't be taken so seriously or rigidly. No one's watching anyway, so busy are they with their own productions, so I can take a break from my producer delusions of grandeur without any consequential impacts - the improv show will still march on, and who knows - I may even enjoy the "detours" once I let go of the destination.

* Even "inventing" something new isn't new. Someone already invented "inventing".
** The influence of my year-ish-long focus on mindfulness and Buddhism showing through.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Fri Dec 07, 2018 9:57 am

I just need to type something out as a way to think through it.

In @1taskaday's journal @2B1S referenced this blog and I read this post: https://livingafi.com/2016/02/24/defini ... t-purpose/ . Combined with an interview I had yesterday, and other life ruminations (gasp!) the brain's been churning, unsurprisingly.
In your current state, as a twenty or thirty or forty something professional, you’re not always happy, but neither are you unhappy. And you’ve internalized the profound benefits that this situation has on your life; you feel safe and secure. So what if you’re bored or frustrated a great deal of the time?

You’re not alone. This is the typical progression for white collar workers. I’m not guessing here. I recently finished reading Stud’s Terkel’s Working, in which the author interviews dozens of people with all sorts of different professions. These themes are depressingly common. Very few people are called into a profession. Most of us stumble into one and find we can manage all right, and goddamn, we need the money, so we trade our time for temporary financial stability, paycheck after paycheck, despite a growing sense of malaise that’s hard to pinpoint as the years pass.
...
[college years are exciting because you are constantly learning new things in new areas and meeting new people and there's not enough permanence to become bored]
...
Now that I’ve fixed the so-called money problem in my life, though, by becoming FI, I can return to that state of flexibility and creativity, if I so choose. (This is one of the main reasons people want to achieve FI, actually — it isn’t that they hate their jobs. They just can’t see doing the same thing for the rest of their lives.)
I'm bored in my job. I'm not learning anything new. Which leads me to feel angsty. But I get paid very well to do this job. And it's not too demanding. Which leads me to not want to consider other jobs where I'd have to start all over (both in terms of skill and pay). Golden handcuffs. Which leads me to consider other similar jobs where if I take on a bit more demands (i.e., go back to a law firm with billing pressures and client handholding, but substantively the same), I'd make a bit more money. Basically same job, so why not go for more money? So long as the extra money > the extra demands.

I just interviewed at a company where I have a good shot at getting an offer - the hiring manager asked a mutual friend for leads and the mutual friend recommended me. The manager of the primary client group knows one of my current clients really well and she got a call from him recommending me as well. I didn't flub any interviews (as far as I could tell). So, a good shot at an offer. The only additional "demands" would be getting to know a new client group and dealing with geography - potential options would be 1) relocating the wife and 3 kids, 2) long-commuting (week at work, weekends at home) or 3) telecommuting with some long-commuting mixed in (ratios TBD).

Where I'm shaking out is I'm trying to realize that my angst from boredom/golden handcuffs can't be resolved by a job change - it'll just be same shit different office. So I either have to grow some balls and do something scary/new while turning off the money shower or I have to embrace the angst/boredom/golden handcuffs as the obvious costs for the obvious benefits of my current career.

edit: from the first review on Amazon of Studs Terkel's Working mentioned above, which really resonates:
Many jobs are "too small for one's spirit." People need to feel challenged in order to be fulfilled. A job which is secure and pays adequately may mean complete misery if there's no challenge or sense of meaningful contribution.

jacob
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by jacob » Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:18 am

Even if it's a lot of money, I've never found it the case that recreational doodads purchased with such money are able to create the same happiness as an exciting job. That might just be me, but that's the equation that has to hold. Is the extra money capable of purchasing the inspiration that would come with work at a lower income but which otherwise has to be purchased mostly as recreational or status products if one's higher paying job feels uninspiring?

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:36 am

The extra money is not so much for buying distractions, but a "I'm already doing this thing here, so why not get paid more for doing the same thing over there?" It would just go into savings, I guess.

Re: the exciting job thing...nothing really excites me so long as I know that I'll need more money than I currently have. If a job were just for the fun of it AND I could do it for a few years and then try something else when I got bored, great. But the fact is that I have to stay working for the foreseeable future, if only for "safety" reasons (3 kids, so healthcare and other exigencies). So, full circle, if I'm going to be working for money anyway...might as well maximize the $/BS ratio. I guess this goes back to what I think @cL was describing for his own situation.

Augustus
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Augustus » Fri Dec 07, 2018 11:16 am

Business travel just ends up feeling like a really long annoying commute. Waking up ridiculously early, jumping through hoops at airport or driving, then by the time you're at work you just want to call it a day. Then when you're in a hotel you're always missing something or forgot something. Your wife will get mad you're not pulling your weight. Etc. Not recommended IMO.

Moves...ugh... expensive hassles. One huge mistake I made was moving from a large economic area to a small one, all my clients were out of state because the in state ones didn't pay well.

Remote/telecommuting is nice. You run the risk of getting let go sooner than in house employees though.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by classical_Liberal » Fri Dec 07, 2018 6:04 pm

suomalainen wrote:
Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:36 am
But the fact is that I have to stay working for the foreseeable future, if only for "safety" reasons (3 kids, so healthcare and other exigencies). So, full circle, if I'm going to be working for money anyway...might as well maximize the $/BS ratio. I guess this goes back to what I think @cL was describing for his own situation.
Interestingly, I make this argument for the exact opposite reason. I tell myself to put up with the relative boredom/misery with the best $:BS ratio because it wont last for long. I tend to think it was easier to switch professions pre-ERE knowledge, simply because my tolerance for misery was lower when I thought I was stuck doing it for 30+ more years.

Not saying your reasoning is wrong, just interesting how it's different. I think we both are probably placing walls in our life maze, as you described above. That being said, I've done the career switch thing a few times. The last one had a pretty big educational investment in time and $. It only took about two years for discontent to begin to return in new careers. In my experience, It takes a bit more time than that to maximize income in a field.

So, if you are anything like me, high investment in education/training is probably not worth it. However, if you can switch it up without that initial investment, a couple of years is a decent amount of time to be more satisfied. It could hurt the income flow if you need to restart at a lower rung on the ladder in something different. Or maybe the new, very similar gig will provide enough change to keep you content, who knows? Sounds like some kind of change is in order though. I would suggest, if you do make a job change, try to expand your skill base in the new job as much as possible. It could make future moves easier, since you plan to be in this for the long hall.

jacob
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by jacob » Fri Dec 07, 2018 6:29 pm

classical_Liberal wrote:
Fri Dec 07, 2018 6:04 pm
I tend to think it was easier to switch professions pre-ERE knowledge, simply because my tolerance for misery was lower when I thought I was stuck doing it for 30+ more years.
You mean higher?

classical_Liberal
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by classical_Liberal » Fri Dec 07, 2018 6:45 pm

@jacob,
No, tolerance for misery was lower pre-ERE than in my present state. It was much more difficult to deal with a future of endless day-to-day drudgery, than it is to deal with said drudgery with a near-term end point. IOW, a prisoner with a life sentence has very little to lose in an attempted jail break, someone serving only one year has a lot to lose (extended term of stay).

Before (ERE) I cared more about reducing the net total of the "BS" side of the ratio, expecting an endless life of it. Now I want to maximize the $:BS ratio, even if it means a net increase on the BS side.

ThisDinosaur
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by ThisDinosaur » Fri Dec 07, 2018 7:11 pm

@cL
ERE/FIRE has had the exact opposite effect on my BS tolerance. I was an ambitious, careerist, workaholic before I learned that there was another option. Now I feel like a high school senior, counting down the days to graduation.

I've been trying to remind myself lately that the FI is more important than the RE.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by classical_Liberal » Fri Dec 07, 2018 7:36 pm

@TD
I believe my current feelings (discussion in my journal referenced by @Suomalaisen) is directly related to my very specific situation.

One to three years ago, earlier in my ERE journey, I would completely agree with your comment. If I were very near full FI I bet I would agree as well. Presently, I'm in a situation of reaching my semi-ERE goal and can't seem to pull the trigger. I've been in the process of divorcing (or at least a legal separation :D ) my current career for awhile now, so the BS level is higher than previous anyway.

I've moved through other objections to the "I'm miserable, but at least I'm comfortably" objection in section 1.2 of the ERE book. So this comment is not to say that I'm more tolerant of misery because of ERE. Rather my current situation in OMY mindset has made me more tolerant of a temporary net increase of misery if it maximizes $:BS ration in my current career. @Suomalaisen was looking to max the same ratio, but stated he is doing so because "I have to stay working for the foreseeable future". Which seems a very different reason to come to the same conclusion.

To follow the example of the prisoner above; I'm like the prisoner about to be paroled from a previously expected life sentence. I have a great deal of apprehension of being able to "make it" on the outside. So any advantage I can give myself while I'm still stuck in jail should be maximized, even if that means making my remaining time a bit more harsh. Simultaneously, I'm willing to do just about anything while still "inside" to make sure I don't screw this chance up.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:27 pm

To be fair/clear, if expected BS is the same (and fairly low) in either situation (same corporate BS, different office), the only variable to tweak in the ratio is $.* That is my assumption since I will essentially be doing the exact same job. No new skills to develop really unless I do a completely different area of law (not interested) or leave law completely. Or try to go upper management (no thank you). This really is it: "it isn’t that they hate their jobs. They just can’t see doing the same thing for the rest of their lives." It's malaise and boredom and lack of excitement I'm solving for. Or I would be solving for, if I also didn't have to solve for $. :lol:

* The reason I haven't gone back to the biglaw firm is even though it's more money, it's also a lot more BS, so the ratio wouldn't have gone up appreciably and likely would have gone down.

100% understand the high school senior analogy. It's tough to have that mindset when you're in the fourth grade. :evil:

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