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Nuances of financial independence

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When we talk about financial independence, it suggest that we are trying to stand alone and be self sufficient. It reminds me of those doomsday preppers, where they store their own preserved food, carefully canning them to hoard a stash of years to come. Self-sufficiency is the key. And for a while, I thought that model is what I aspire to become too.

After becoming a father, I saw from first principles how relationships are formed. My boy is the catalyst to forging new relationships. He is like the fire in the forge, melting hard cold steel together. I think my neighbor’s place is like a second home to him. They are a couple with an adult child that had long since flew off the nest to start a new life. Hence, they welcomed my boy with open arms each time. It started from there, then my mum starts preparing some meals for them, and before I knew it, our relationship had elevated to just mere acquaintance. As my boy runs around in his whirlwind of activity, he spreads joy all around him. Strangers sometimes step in to help him when he falls while I stand there and just observe (I don’t tend to help him unless it’s serious; and it’s seldom serious). The entire market near my home probably knows him, and because of my boy, I share with him the joy of having new found friends. This is not something I do very well, as I tend to keep to myself. Don’t we all?

Humans are not meant to be isolated. And so when we talk about financial independence, we should steer away from the idea of being self-sufficient. There is value in being dependent on others, but the key is whether you have the strength to let others be dependent on you as well. That is how new relationships are formed. You treat me a meal, next time I treat me, ad infinitum. There is something to look forward to, and the relationship is sustained through such relational transactions. If you’re self-sufficient, and I’m self-sufficient, and I don’t want to owe favours to you because I want to maintain self-sufficiency, then the whole thing breaks down. I know I’m in a better relationship with someone if I’m getting fuzzy with money. I’m very sensitive to money and that’s how my mind works, but I don’t necessarily show it. If I want to strengthen a relationship from acquaintance to friends, I will get more and more fuzzy about money. On the other hand, if I just see someone as a hi-bye acquaintance, I’ll pay the exact right down to the cents. I won’t want to owe them any favours because I don’t want to have to expend the energy and time to return it.

No relational transactions equals no relationship.

What has this got to do with financial independence? I want to be financially free so that I can have the freedom to build deeper relationships. With whom, with what? I want to build deeper relationships with my family, but more importantly, to expand my circle of what is commonly termed ‘family’ so that it grows bigger and bigger to encompass more people. It is NOT based on an ideology of self sufficiency, but that of mutual dependence, and hence as a result, creating deeper relationships with people. Family shouldn’t be just related by blood; it should be defined by how much blood you are willing to shed for another being, and him to you.

And now I know why I dislike the idea of ‘FU’ money. It is so antagonistic. It implies the breaking down of relationship with a certain degree of arrogance and anger in it too. It suggest you want to flip the table and flip someone the bird.

No, that is not what I aspire to be. Someone is looking up to me as a model, and thus I must be exemplary in conduct and manner.

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