Or, pay thrice
The good news about living with the horribleness of pandemic life is that we can better reflect on what matters. We can make decisions that truly improve our lives, as trivial distractions become less and less worthwhile.
Of course we can keep our Wordle and our Netflix and watch cake shows etc.. But when it comes down to it we have learned, through massive death tolls across this planet of ours, that untold trillions of rapidly evolving virus cells almost brought civilization to it's knees.
Going forward we need to increase our gratitude for not ending up "under the bus" so to speak.
This newfound responsibility is being played out across the world as employees leave jobs that, in the past paid the bills, but now doesn't feed the soul.
Photo: A Balinese neighbor prepares for a ceremony
One easy way to understand this process of finding greater meaning in the things we do is by understanding what David Cain at raptitude.com means by having to pay twice for what you acquire.
A new novel, for example, might require twenty dollars for its first price—and ten hours of dedicated reading time for its second. Only once the second price is being paid do you see any return on the first one. Paying only the first price is about the same as throwing money in the garbage.
Whereas with books there seems to be only two prices to pay: the purchase, and the dedication of your precious time to fulfill the promise to yourself in order to make your initial payment worthwhile. (Perhaps an additional payment for shelf storage, although once the book is read you have the option of passing it along.)
In many cases you must buy something three times: the purchase, the necessary time for completing the value of the purchase (it's not free), and then the maintenance of the item in order to extend the life of your first two purchases.
This acknowledgement of two or three payments is obvious, yet without the pandemic alarm clock perhaps we'd stay in our collective stupor and keep 1-clicking on Amazon.
Do we owe it to ourselves and the world to up our integrity? Shouldn't we be incredibly grateful that we've avoided covid-saturated hospitals?
As we face the single greatest challenge of humanity, to unburn the planet, we can start by coming to grips with the double or triple prices we pay when buying something. And perhaps this realization forces us to buy less stuff.
When we do buy something we can focus on items that have the potential to either transform us with new mastery, or at least bring us joy by truly completing the acquisition.
After all, as Mr. Cain so wisely states,
I believe this is one reason our modern lifestyles can feel a little self-defeating sometimes. In our search for fulfillment, we keep paying first prices, creating a correspondingly enormous debt of unpaid second prices. Yet the rewards of any purchase – the reason we buy it at all — stay locked up until both prices are paid.
Another trend that's been growing even before the pandemic and has been increasing at a rapid pace is the focus on experiences instead of acquisitions. The beauty of experiences is that you pay only once.
For example you don't even have to make up the hotel bed after your sleep. You get a free pass. And the sheets? No maintenance worries. The swimming pool? No concerns over leaks or pH balances or replacing the filter pump.
There is a thrill to stepping into new experiences and not worrying about a single thing you touch.
The singular price is for a slice of time, and that is determined by your budget. How you organize your time however is tricky, so here is some advice from the late Anthony Bourdain,
"I’m a big believer in winging it. I’m a big believer that you’re never going to find perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I’m always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary."
The point of all this? Honor the time you have in this world by paying the full price for something that you can't NOT have, and consider the value of embracing new experiences, even at the risk of them not being perfect.
What does this have to do with retiring in Bali? Or with living independently anywhere? Unless you're rolling in money, in order to have a satisfying life abroad or even to live in your first-world home without working you will need to consume less and indulge in experiences more, especially free ones.