There are a few songs that can serve as an anthem for the journey to financial independence and retiring early. “Take This Job & Shove It” comes immediately to mind, as does “Bang On The Drum All Day”.
Those songs are about escaping the drudgery of work, but I think the most appropriate song for my FIRE mindset might be John Lennon’s 1980 “Watching The Wheels”. Lennon wrote his ode to not working in response to the six years he took away from performing between 1974 and 1980. During the time, Lennon stayed home with his wife Yoko and son Sean, enjoyed family time and baked bread.
Songfacts.com writes “The song makes a statement that taking it easy and spending time with loved ones is anything but crazy. Working way too hard in an attempt to be a productive as possible, on the other hand, can be quite unfulfilling in the end.”
There are several lines of the song that echo my interactions with former colleagues and our different paths in life:
People say I’m crazy, doing what I’m doing.
Well, they give me all kinds of warnings,
To save me from ruin.
When I say that I’m okay, well they look at me kinda strange
“Surely, you’re not happy now, you no longer play the game”
While I enjoyed my career and “playing the game” a great deal, I also didn’t wrap so much of my self-importance in my job that it was difficult to walk away. Even after almost two years away from MegaCorp, people tell me that I could still start working any time I want, or suggesting new roles that I might pursue.
People say I’m lazy, dreaming my life away.
Well they give me all kinds of advice,
Designed to enlighten me.
When I tell them that I’m doing fine watching shadows on the wall
“Don’t you miss the big time boy, you’re no longer on the ball?”
I have not found myself missing the MegaCorp “big time” in early retirement at all and look back at some of those trappings as silly now. The fact is, I really enjoy having the time to do things independently and simply “watch shadows on the wall” and doing my own silly things. While unlike Lennon, I didn’t wasn’t burned out from fame and fortune, but have certainly found joy in “watching the wheels go round and round”.
I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go
Ah, people ask me questions … lost in confusion
Well, I tell them there’s no problem … only solutions
Well, they shake their heads and they look at me, as if I’ve lost my mind
I tell them there’s no hurry, I’m just sitting here doing time …
What is your FIRE anthem?