I stood tonight in the street where I live, smoking a cigarette and staring down the street reflectively. I saw the wide, clean streets, the careful drivers, the clear skies with stars in them. I looked up and thought, when I live in Bangkok, will I see the stars? Will the haze of the high humidity and hot environment obscure them? Will I care? What will be my concern?
I have 55 day, 19 hours and 2 minutes until 5pm on June 1, 2016, when I quit my job at 50 years old and start a new life. At that point, I will have sold much of my belongings, and on my way to selling my home of 15 years. I have engaged in an intense process of expatriation, for the sake of adventure and whatever is beyond my event horizon.
This is where I am tonight. I’m afraid and alone. I have friends who understand, friends who do not understand. But I have friends and that is quite remarkable. I have plans that make sense, plans that are instinctive, plans that will change, and plans that are inspired and fundamentally unchangeable. I know that being fully who I am is the passport to my adventure, and yet I cannot fully admit that to the world, or even to myself.
We are all just evolved monkeys. I feel that clever monkeys want to see the mess that other monkeys have made so they can avoid their own messes. This is the motivation for the maxim “if it bleeds, it leads,” in the modern press. We strive to learn from each others’ mistakes. But there is also the risk versus reward paradigm, where the greatest riches are available to the monkey willing to swing to the farthest branch, not knowing if it will give way to the waiting tigers in the jungle below. Some monkeys learn to display their risk and the other monkeys gawk at the spectacle. There is no optimum, all are necessary for a functional human society.
And in each of us, there is a risk taker, a watcher, a fearful monkey. Do you want to collect the bananas, or do you want to find another tribe of monkeys? I see that my passion lies with discovery, even if it involves risk. I think the current environment favors risk takers. As Warren Buffet says, “Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.” Look around. What do you see? I see fear. And I’m making a bet that therein lies my opportunity.
But as Ragnar in the Vikings series says, “Rule with your brain, and not your heart.” I take counsel with my heart, to tell me what I fear. I then ask my brain, is this what others fear? If so, I do the opposite. I have not done the math, but I suspect this leads to a good result. And of course, I ask, is this what others find comfort in? If so, I do the opposite. I bid you choose counsel of your heart but let your brain rule you as well. What strategy do you follow? I’d love to hear your comments!